Five Gujarat policemen posted in Vadodara have been arrested and later suspended for alleged negligence that led to the escape of a key witness in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, Sylvester alias Dipu, near Udaipur in Rajasthan on Saturday.

Acting Director-General of Police Chittaranjan Singh and Vadodara Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said here on Sunday that Sub-Inspector M. S. Gohil, head constable Ambalal Balubhai, two constables Vijay Babubhai and Ranchhod Jinabhai, and driver of the police vehicle Gopalsinh, were suspended immediately.

They were arrested by the Udaipur police on Saturday night for alleged negligence after they reported to the police about the escape.

Mr. Singh admitted that the five policemen were actually taken by Sylvester to his house in Udaipur where they were served liquor.

Police sources said that the five personnel, who had taken Sylvester from the Vadodara jail to Udaipur to appear in a court case and bring him back to Vadodara, were heavily drunk. Taking advantage of the situation, the gangster slipped out of the house on Friday evening.

Informed sources also alleged that the policemen actually “struck a deal” with Sylvester to allow him to flee. Mr. Singh admitted that the police escort party might have allowed the gangster to escape for “personal gains.”

Late in the night, the five policemen panicked and contacted the Udaipur police for help, but chose not to report the matter to their higher-ups in Vadodara. Mr. Sharma said that when he came to know about the escape of the gangster, he “immediately realised that something was wrong with the Gujarat police” and sent out suspension orders to four policemen on Saturday. The driver was suspended on Sunday.

Fortunately for the Gujarat police, Sylvester was re-arrested within hours of his escape. Sylvester reportedly told the police that he wanted to meet a person in Ajmer in connection with a land deal. While he was returning to Udaipur, he was caught in a joint operation by the Rajasthan and Gujarat police. The police also recovered a loaded revolver from his possession, which, he said, he had acquired in Ajmer to “threaten” the person. Mr. Sharma said that since his escape Sylvester was in constant touch on the mobile phone with one of his lawyers. This helped the police to locate and re-capture him.