Salem attack a well-planned conspiracy, say cops

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 28 Juni 2013 | 22.23

THANE: Questions are being raised in the police circles about the investigations that are underway in the planned attack on incarcerated gangster Abu Salem in the Taloja jail on Thursday, with the prison authorities clearly under a cloud for the daring assault by rival gangster.

While the attack speaks volumes about the inadequate safety and security measures inside the penitentiary, police officials said the possibility of the jail staff's tacit involvement could not be ruled out. In fact, a senior police officer is of the opinion that the jail staff should be held accountable for the murderous assault and be booked under Section 12 (b) of the Indian Penal Code for being part of the conspiracy.

The Navi Mumbai police commissioner has said that they are going to investigate as to how a country-made gun could be sneaked inside the heavy-guarded prison. The commissioner should promptly register an offence of conspiracy and attempt to murder against the jail authorities and arrest those on guard duty along with the attacker,'' a senior police officer told TOI.

He added that Salem's attacker Devendra Jagtap had fired two rounds from a country-made revolver when the two men came in close contact inside the jail courtyard on Thursday. Fearing for his life Salem ran for cover and managed to duck one bullet but the second bullet just about missed the target and injured his right hand.

It is believed that Jagtap could have been passed on the weapon earlier in the day while he was attending a court hearing in Mumbai. The attacker entered the prison with the weapon hidden on him. Ideally, the jail guards carry out a physical inspection of all those inmates who return back to the cell after spending a day in court hearing. There is a proper screening and even baggage which include toiletries or medicines are screened before they are allowed inside the prison. If Jagtap has managed to walk though this with a weapon, then it is a serious security breach or it is a collusion,'' the police officer said on conditions of anonymity.

He added that Salem has been in jail for close to seven years now after he was deported from Portugal in November 2005. The Portugal government was given an executive assurance by the Central government that it would not award death penalty to Salem and would also desist from booking him for offences which entails 25 years in prison.

This is a second such murderous attack on Salem who has residency rights in Portugal. Salem has survived the attacks showing the prison authorities in poor light. Now he can make a perfectly legitimate demand to be repatriated to his home country as he fears for his life here. So, the possibility that the attack was planned by the gangster himself cannot be ruled out entirely,'' the police officer said.

He expressed surprise that Jagtap, who is under trail for killing of Gulshan Kumar and SIMI activists-turned advocate Shahid Azmi, should use a country-made revolver and not a high end revolver used by sharp shooters to kill their targets.

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