A man, accused of stealing rifles and ammunition from an Army Cantonment in Madhya Pradesh’s Panchmarhi, tricked police guards by making an excuse of going to the washroom and escaped from a Punjab hospital by scaling its wall early Tuesday, officials said. Harpreet Singh (24), an army “deserter”, was admitted at the Hoshiarpur civil hospital with a fracture in his arm on December 31.
“He hoodwinked our policemen by making an excuse of going to the washroom,” Hoshiarpur Senior Superintendent of Police Guarav Garg said, asserting that he will be caught soon.
At around 4.15 am Harpreet told the police personnel guarding him that he wanted to use the toilet following which they removed his handcuff. Later when he was inside the toilet, ASI Baldev Dutt heard him talking to someone. As Dutt knocked at the door, Harpreet pushed the ASI back and fled taking advantage of the darkness. He scaled the wall of the hospital at around 4:30 am to escape, the officials said, adding that he was lodged at a jail in Hoshirapur district.
Senior officials were informed about the incident at around 6:30 am.
“Five policemen were deployed on duty in the prisoner ward,” the SSP said, adding that action would be taken against them.
Hoshiarpur police has registered an FIR for dereliction of duty against ASIs Baldev Duty, Jagtar Singh, Hardeep Singh, Bansi Lal and head constable Davinder Singh under sections 223, 224, and 120 (B) of IPC. Harpreet’s father Harbans Singh has also been booked for handing him a mobile phone.
Posing as army officers, Harpreet and Jagtar Singh alias Jagga, the son of Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) militant Harbhjan Singh, had stolen two INSAS rifles and 20 cartridges from Army Cantonment in Pachmarhi on December 6. Harpreet, who was a sepoy in the Indian Army, was arrested from Chotala village near Tanda in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district, in December. He was declared a “military deserter” in October last year. His three accomplices were also arrested at that time.
The stolen property was recovered from a sugarcane field. According to the police, the duo had stolen the rifles to allegedly form a gang of their own to commit robberies. “There is no militancy link to the arrest of these men at the moment,” said a police official.
Harpreet is facing charges under sections of 380 (theft), 399 (making preparation to commit dacoity) and 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act, police had then said.