Local help facilitated Imam Ali getaway: police

CHENNAI Oct. 5. Despite the elimination of Imam Ali, a dreaded militant, and his associates in Bangalore six days ago, the continued support given by people to fundamentalist groups is causing concern to the police. They acknowledge that without the support of some elements, apart from his associates, Ali could not have escaped from police custody at Tirumangalam, near Madurai, and later sneaked out of the State.

While hunting for the wanted persons, the police were also trying to find out whether there was any other person in the house at MSR Layout in Bangalore, where Imam Ali, his three associates and a woman were shot dead.

When he was in Bangalore a few days ago, the Tamil Nadu Director-General of Police, B. P. Nailwal, discussed ``matters of police importance'' with his Karnataka counterpart, T. Madiyal.

Though no new strategy was worked out between the police of the two States to nab the absconding accused, joint teams, such as the one which went into action in Bangalore, would be formed as and when required. Intelligence on militants would also be shared, a senior State police officer told The Hindu. It would be a relentless hunt for the absconders.

The police strongly suspect that, apart from those who directly helped Imam Ali and Hyder Ali (since rearrested) escape from custody, some persons were assisting the duo as it was moving about in the State clandestinely.

This belief was strengthened after the police came across several telephone numbers and addresses in both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Adding to this was the presence in Bangalore of Yasmin of Madurai, about whom the police did not have much information.

The police recalled they missed Imam Ali by a whisker on a couple of occasions in Tamil Nadu. This getaway could have been facilitated only by some locals.

The links Imam Ali had in Kerala were also being looked into, as during the hunt the police received information that he had been shuttling between Tamil Nadu and that State.

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