SMHS Hospital attack: Police ignored prison department's plea seeking heavy security for escaped LeT militant Naveed Jaat

Srinagar: As details emerge after the daring escape by a top Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Mohammad Naveed Jaat alias Abu Hunzullah from the SMHS hospital on 6 February after killing two cops, it seems the Jammu and Kashmir Police failed to comply with the request of the prison department seeking heavy security for the medical check-up of the now absconding militant.

 SMHS Hospital attack: Police ignored prison departments plea seeking heavy security for escaped LeT militant Naveed Jaat

File photo of Naveed Jaat, the LeT militant from Pakistan, who managed to escape with the assailants after LeT militants attacked Srinagar hospital. PTI

Naveed is responsible for a string of attacks on government forces and escaped from the hospital after two policemen were shot dead by him and another militant who provided him with a pistol.

According to officials, the prison department had written to the police seeking heavy security arrangements to escort Naveed and five other prisoners for a medical check-up at SMHS hospital, but only three personnel were deployed exclusively for Naveed. A total of 18 personnel were deployed by the police for the security of six prisoners including Naveed, sources said.

The militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attack and Naveed’s picture with another HM commander, Saddam Padder, has also gone viral. Sources said that the freed militant set the policemen on the wrong track and feigned a headache to escape from the custody.

The state’s home department, which is headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, suspended the Superintendent of Central Jail Srinagar Hilal Ahmad Rather after the militants escaped and also ordered an inquiry. An order issued by the home department read, "pending inquiry into the incident on 6 February at SMHS hospital, Srinagar leading to the death of two constables and escape of a militant, Hilal Ahmad Rather, Superintendent of Central Jail, Srinagar, is placed under suspension, with immediate effect. The officer should remain attached to the Director General of Prisons office."

Police sources, who are investigating the case, said that a pistol-wielding militant, who was assisted by three other youth, fired gunshots at the policemen to free Naveed from their custody. They also provided him with a vehicle and a bike to help him run away after the shootout at the hospital.

Sources said that Naveed had been frequently complaining of stomach ache and was treated at the SMHS hospital for a renal ailment. But on the day he escaped, he had complained of a headache. “Naveed had feigned that he was suffering from a headache. Three other prisoners were taken to the hospital for a dental check-up. Before he was to get checked by a doctor in one of the wards, Naveed and another militant fired on the policemen and escaped,” sources said.

Deputy Inspector General of Prisons, MS Lone, said that the matter was being investigated. He said that the security personnel were to be made available from the District Police Lines, Srinagar.

"Six prisoners including Naveed were to be treated at SMHS and from the DPL one Kadiman (a cop who takes care of handcuffing prisoners) and two other policemen were deployed for each of the prisoners including Naveed," Lone said. He said that prior to his shifting him to the hospital for treatment, communication was sent out to the police that "heavy security deployment" should be made for the militant.

Sources said that Naveed had complained of a headache to get treatment at the SMHS, but Lone said that he was undergoing the check-up for "kidney ailment". He was frequently ferried to the hospital which lies few kilometres from the Central jail and was treated at least four times since August last year.

Police sources said that Naveed and the militants had worked out a "plan" to escape from the custody and were in touch in the jail. The incident has also brought into focus the use of cell phones by the prison inmates, which are prohibited. Earlier cell phones were seized from a prison in Baramulla and from the Srinagar Central Jail.

Earlier during the day police carried out raids in different places of Pulwama and arrested four youths who were in touch with Naveed to help him escape from the custody. Senior Superintendent of Pulwama, Mohamad Aslam, said, "Four people were arrested in connection with the case after a joint investigation by Pulwama and Srinagar police found that they helped the militant to escape."

Advocate Shafaqat Hussain, Naveed’s counsel, said that when he was arrested seven years back he was a minor.

“We filed a petition before the high court to shift him from a jail in Kathua to Srinagar Central jail as he was facing trial in Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian courts in connection with the killing of many security personnel. We pleaded that the hearings in the cases couldn’t be held in time as the Kathua jail was too far from Srinagar," the lawyer said.

Hussain said that the government has also slapped public safety act (PSA) against him which has been challenged by the militant in the court.

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Updated Date: Feb 08, 2018 22:13:27 IST