Terai armed group chiefs at large after massive jailbreak

August 14th, 2008 - 1:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Aug 14 (IANS) At least four top leaders of underground armed groups were at large Thursday along with nearly 50 other prisoners after a massive jailbreak in southern Nepal the day before. In a style reminiscent of the Maoists’ audacious prison escapes during their 10-year insurgency, three leaders of a former Maoist organisation, which is on the US government’s terror list, spearheaded the escape Wednesday night from Siraha Jail near the India-Nepal border.

Though police are yet to determine the identities of all the 51 prisoners who are still at large, some of the kingpins have been identified.

Tufan Singh Bidrohi, a senior leader of a breakaway faction of the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTTM), an underground organisation of former Maoist guerrillas; Bisphot Singh, chief of another faction of the group; Bikranta, a third JTMM leader; Ram Lochan Yadav, leader of a shadowy group called LTTE and Jaso Yadav, leader of Samyukta Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha as well as their associates are still at large.

Police, however, arrested two of the fugitives while a third died in police firing. Sonelal Yadav, the fleeing prisoner who died, has been identified as a drug trafficker from Parsa district in the Terai plains.

In the biggest jailbreak of its kind since the Maoist guerrillas signed a peace pact two years ago, 54 prisoners, armed with daggers and other weapons, overpowered the nearly 15 guards stationed in the jail and fled, giving rise to fears that some could have fled to India across the border.

The prison had held 150 inmates, six of whom were women.

The fugitives, wanted for crimes ranging from robbery to murder, are armed with khukris - local daggers - and other weapons they made inside the prison.

It appeared to have been a planned escape.

Government employees had been on strike in Siraha for the past 10 days, demanding security from the over two dozen armed gangs who have been spreading terror in the plains with extortion, abduction and murder.

The agitating staff and local administration and police chiefs had gathered for talks.

Taking advantage of the lacuna, the prisoners overpowered the night guards and escaped.

Since most of the fugitives are people of Indian origin who could have relatives or friends across the border, it is feared that they would try to cross the porous border and lie low in Indian border towns.

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