A man (53), sentenced for life and released on parole, fled while being taken to a hospital from a remote place in Darjeeling hills in north Bengal after he had tested coronavirus disease (Covid-19) positive.
The man had murdered his wife in 2011 and was sentenced for life.
He was released on parole for a month from Jalpaiguri Central Jail in north Bengal and went home in remote Lodhama village in Darjeeling district almost a week ago.
On Sunday evening, when he was being taken to Tribeni Covid-19 hospital in Kalimpong, about 100 kilometres (km) from his native village, he managed to flee from the ambulance.
There was no security in the ambulance, a jail official said.
“The convict had asked the ambulance driver to stop in a wooded area. It was dark and he fled. A search operation has been launched,” said Subodh Dutta, officer-in-charge of Lodhoma police station.
Even though his family members, including his daughter and elder brother, and some villagers have already been quarantined, he had spent a night with another convict in Darjeeling, who was also released on parole along with him.
“We don’t know how many people he had come in contact with. He tested Covid-19 positive on Friday, but the ambulance arrived on Sunday. He absconded because of lack of security in the ambulance,” said Dutta.
S Poonambalam, district magistrate, of Darjeeling said: “We will take up the matter with the police and trace him.”
Senior officials of Jalpaiguri central jail said that some convicts, who have been released on parole or have completed their jail term, have tested Covid-19 positive after reaching home.
“Many inmates and officials have also tested Covid-19 positive in the overcrowded jail,” said another official.
A convict from Teesta Bazaar, who was released on July 20 after completing a seven-year jail term, also tested Covid-19 positive after reaching home.
Abhishek Tiwari, DM, Jalpaiguri, however, said the district authorities are yet to be intimated about the convict’s escape.