Mumbai: In a huge security lapse and a big embarrassment for the Mumbai Police, Indian Mujahideen operative and Ahmedabad blasts case accused Afzal Usmani made a daring escape from police custody while being produced in court on Friday.
Two policemen have been suspended and a DCP-level inquiry has also been initiated by the Navi Mumbai police. A massive manhunt is on with 12 teams on the lookout for Usmani. His picture has also been circulated to all police stations. Searches are on at hotels, taxi stands and at railway stations.
Usmani was brought to the sessions court around 1:30 pm on Friday. 22 other accused were brought with him, but there were just four policemen guarding them.
When the court reconvened after lunch, the guards realised that Usmani was missing. The sessions court, though a highly guarded structure, has a history of bomhomie between police escorts and the accused, a situation that has led to security lapses even in the past, but perhaps none as embarrassing as this one.
Usmani is an accused in the Ahmedabad and Surat blasts cases. Police say he is a car thief who supplied stolen vehicles used in terror blasts. He was arrested in 2008 and had been transferred to Mumbai from Gujarat's Sabarmati jail just three months back.
Soon after Usmani's escape, several police teams including a dog squad were sent to the court. The police say they are monitoring all exit points of the city. The Mumbai Police is now probing an insider hand in this case.