The state police was left red-faced after a dreaded Odisha gangster SK Hyder, who was serving a life sentence, managed to flee while undergoing treatment in police custody from SCB Medical College in Cuttack.
The state police, including forces from as many as four districts, have launched a massive manhunt to nab him.
Who is Odisha gangster SK Hyder?
SK Hyder was involved in gang wars in Kendrapara district of the state and is known to plan and execute crimes from inside jail.
He rose to fame after killing SK Chuna, brother of his arch rival Suleiman in Kendrapara in 2005. He was arrested the same year from Nagpur for the murder and was awarded life imprisonment in 2011.
The Bhubaneswar police took his custody for an investigation when his name cropped up in the 2008 kidnapping and murder of mines trader Rashmi Ranjan Mahapatra. In 2015, he was sentenced to life again in this case.
Over 15 cases are lodged against him, including seven in Kendrapara and the rest in Bhubaneswar and Puri districts.
The charges include murder, attempt to murder, extortion, loot among others.
Life imprisonment for Odisha gangster SK Hyder
He was serving his term in Jharpada jail, but was shifted to district jail in Sambalpur in 2017 following reports of gang war with his rival Dhalasamanta brothers.
According to police officials, Hyder was moved to SCB hospital on March 24. He was admitted in cabin number 5 of the surgery ward for treatment.
His absence was first noticed by a nurse who had visited his cabin for a daily routine check-up at 5.30pm on Saturday. At the time of the escape, only one constable was positioned outside the cabin, who was found unconscious.
Six constables in a shift of four hours each were guarding him. The police are investigating if the constable was drugged before Hyder fled.
Questions are being raised around the circumstances under which Hyder fled. Since March 23, Hyder was admitted in the hospital, but the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack police commissionerate was unaware about Hyder being treated at the medical facility in Cuttack.
The cabin occupied by Hyder in the hospital did not have a CCTV camera. The role of prison authorities is also under scrutiny.
A day after gangster SK Hyder escaped from police custody at SCB Medical College and Hospital, Sambalpur SP Battula Gangadhar placed six police personnel under suspension.
They are Constables Bulbul Sahu, Deepak Sahu, Md Mousim, Umakant Behera, and Sudhansu Majhi and Havildar Ramesh Chandra Dehury. The five constables and Havildar Dehury were deputed to escort Hyder to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.