The Kerala police on Sunday arrested a 26-year-old man who escaped from the Palayamkottai prison in Tamil Nadu in 2007.

Nedumangadu Circle Inspector identified the suspect as Vimal Raj of Karinkal near Udaya Marthandam in Kanyakumari district.

Vimal Raj is wanted in over 35 cases, mostly burglaries, robberies and bank thefts, in Tamil Nadu alone.

Investigators said he had escaped from the jail while being escorted to a local court for trial in a robbery case. He is wanted in Tamil Nadu chiefly on the charge of stealing money from Iraniyal railway station near Nagercoil after making the station master hostage.

The State police are also on the look out for an engineering student suspected to be one of Vimal Raj’s key associates. Police said the role of Mithun Raj, student of a private engineering college in Palode, came to light with the arrest of Vimal Raj and two of his gang members, identified as Manichi alias Manikantan (22) of Kadackavoor and Biju (22) of Kazhakuttom in Thiruvananthapuram district.

The police said the gang specialised in breaking into banks in rural areas. The police said that in August the accused hired a van from a rent-a-car agency in Kazhakuttom and travelled to Oorambu in Tamil Nadu. The gang broke into the local cooperative bank at night, but could not get anything of value. The same night the gang broke into a nationalised bank at Paliyode in Vellarada. But they could not gain entry into the bank’s strong room.

On the way back, the police said, the van met with an accident at Nemom. One of its occupants, Kuttan of Kazhakuttom, died in the accident. The suspects escaped after dropping Kuttan’s body at the Medical College Hospital casualty ward here. Police said that Mithun Raj was driving the van at the time.

They said at least eight motorcycle theft cases reported in Thiruvananthapuram has been solved with the arrest of Vimal Raj. Some of the stolen vehicles have also been recovered on the basis of his confession.

After escaping from prison, Vimal Raj along with a new found associate stole mobile telephones from a shop in Kollam district in Kerala. He was later arrested in Mumbai on the charge of burglary. Investigators said Vimal Raj gave his name as Naushad to the Mumbai police to conceal his identity.

The police said that one Nazir, an accused in several counterfeit currency cases, harboured him in Perumathura, a coastal hamlet on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram city.

The Kerala police were also verifying Vimal Raj’s statement that Karate Suresh, who the Thiruvananthapuram District Magistrate had detained under the provisions of the Kerala Anti Social Activities (Prevention) Act, had engaged his services to harm one “Italy” Lalu based in Kazhakuttom.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Nedumangadu, R. Sukeshan, is heading the investigation in the case. The suspect was produced before the Judicial First Class Magistrate-III, Nedumangadu and remanded to judicial custody for 14 days.

Keywords: Fugitivearrest