A major jailbreak plan was unearthed in the Sabarmati Central Jail when jail authorities late on Sunday night discovered a 18-foot long tunnel, dug by Ahmedabad serial blasts case undertrials.
"We have found a tunnel dug in the barrack where 14 of the serial bomb blasts accused are lodged and have registered an FIR," said superintendent of Sabarmati Central Jail VM Parghi here on Monday morning.
Late last night, when jail authorities suspected something amiss in the behaviour of two inmates at barrack number four, called 'Chhota Chakkar', they searched it to discover the tunnel dug from inside the barrack, police said.
"Of the total 68 accused of the serial bomb blasts case, 14 were lodged in this barrack. We are trying to find out since how long the digging work has been on, how they were digging it and who else are involved," said Parghi, without divulging any further details.
On July 26, 2008, in all 20 near-simultaneous bomb blasts across Ahmedabad had killed 57 people. All the blast accused are lodged in the Sabarmati Central Jail, as the trial is being ordered within the jail premises because of security reasons.
The Gujarat home ministry has ordered an inquiry into the incident, following a high-level meeting chaired by minister of state for home Rajnikant Patel on Monday morning.
Pargi said they have not found any tools but it seems the accused were using dinner plates and wood to dig the tunnel. "They had volunteered for the gardening work around the barrack and under that cover they were dumping the sand extracted from the tunnel into the garden outside," said Jail IG PC Thakur.
"Everyday they used to get three hours free time to do work of their choice and we are suspecting that they might have used that time to dug the tunnel," Thakur added.
He also claimed that no matter how long they might have dug the tunnel, their escape was impossible as the wall surrounding the barracks are 21-foot high and 20-foot deep inside the earth.
Thakur, however, ducked queries on how could the jail authorities not know about the tunnel till now. "Let us first probe the entire incident," he said.
A battery of high ranking officers, including State Jail IG PC Thakur, JCP city crime branch Himanshu Shukla and other officer from Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), special operation group (SOG) and the Ahmedabad forensic science laboratory have rushed to the jail premises.
Some of the 14 bomb blast accused who were lodged in the barrack where tunnel was found are: Sajid Mansuri, Yunus Mansuri, Shamshood Shahpurwala, Javed Sheikh, Kadri Juhapurawala, Arif Kadri, Umar Kala, Usman Agarbatti, Kayamuddin and Mufti Abu Bashar.
Usman Agarbatti, a civil engineer, is allegedly the master mind of the plan, sources said.
Additional Principal Sessions Judge Jyotsana Yagnik, who is conducting the trial of the serial bomb blast case also visited the jail premises this morning.
Trial of the serial blasts case is being conducted inside Sabarmati Central Jail, as state government has invoked section 268 of the Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC) against all the accused in the case, restricting their movement.
More then 35 FIRs have been filed and nearly 24 accused are still absconding, including Riyaz Bhatkal, Mufti Sufiyan Patangia.