TAMIL NADU

Dame luck and Imam Ali dodging police

CHENNAI March 29 . Twentytwo days after the escape of the militant, Imam Ali, from police custody at Thirumangalam, near Madurai, the police have no viable clues to his whereabouts,

Though there has been no let-up in the hunt for the dreaded prisoner, amidst fears of of his having fled Tamil Nadu, the sequence of events shows that the police need ``some more luck'', a senior officer told The Hindu.

Apart from the Madurai police, a special team of officers led by an SP , experienced in matters relating to militants and activists, was on the lookout for Imam Ali. Besides a constant watch within Tamil Nadu, checkposts were alerted and special parties fanned out to Kerala, Hyderabad (where a militant outfit had a base), Mumbai and Delhi. Sources in the other States were also alerted to keep a tab on the movements of the wanted person.

Despite the arrests of those who had helped in the escape of the two militants (the other, Hyder Ali, has been recaptured), the police did not get any definite clue to the movements of Imam Ali, except ``some vague information'' which the police followed up to no avail.

For, tracking him down was difficult as he was accustomed to staying in lonely places for long before escaping.

The officer said that from the beginning the police did not have ``much luck'' in their efforts. They appeared confident of pinning down the two accused immediately after the March 7 incident at Thirumangalam, but wrong information about the movements of the car in which the two escaped put the police on the wrong track.

Without mentioning the place, for obvious reasons, the police officer said Imam Ali was strongly suspected to have escaped from a house where he had been staying. Based on reliable information, a heavy police force kept a ``close watch'' on the house.

But as he did not come out even after a long time, the police entered the house only to find that he had disappeared. ``Bad luck again'', the officer said.

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