It is an episode that left the Thane jail authorities red-faced.
An accused in the Shakti Mills gang rape case wasn’t “traceable” for an hour on Thursday afternoon, only to be found in the jail itself.
The embarrassing incident came to light when all accused in the photojournalist rape case were produced in court for a routine hearing.
Public prosecutor Ujjawal Nikam told the court that Siraj Sehikh was “untraceable.”
Earlier this week, Siraj was not present at the court hearing. When he was told that Siraj was lodged in the Thane jail, the judge made it clear that he be produced in court on Thursday.
When the hearing began, the jail authorities said he was in the custody of the Mumbai crime branch. But the crime branch claimed otherwise. As both said Siraj was not in their custody, the court asked for an explanation from the Thane jail superintendent at the next hearing.
As the news of Siraj going “missing” spread, the jail authorities realised that Siraj was very much in the Thane jail. “He was in the jail itself. There was some confusion over which case he needed to appear for so we did not produce him in court,” said DIG (Prisons) Swati Sathe.
The incident comes close on the heels of an alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Usmani fleeing the court premises. An inquiry has been ordered into the incident, and two persons were suspended, including an Assistant Police Inspector who was in charge of the team that escorted the accused from the jail to the court.