Tunnel found in Sabarmati jail cell housing blasts suspects

Monday

A jail-break attempt was foiled at the Sabarmati central jail after authorities discovered a 26-ft-long tunnel dug under a barrack where 14 men accused of being behind the July 2008 Ahmedabad serial bomb blasts were lodged.

The tunnel was noticed at midnight on Sunday after jail guards on patrol found some wet soil in the lobby of the special cell where the suspects are housed. The guards and officers on duty apparently also found the behaviour of inmates in barrack number 4 at "Chota Chakkar", a yard within the jail premises, suspicious.

On checking, the officers found the tunnel towards the back side of the special cell. It was about 26-ft long, 16.5-ft deep and 4-ft wide and was covered with a steel plate and some wet mud with grass over it, sources said, adding that a rope tied to the steel plate went down into the tunnel.

"We have not found any tools from their barrack but we suspect they have used the tools used for gardening in the jails. They had volunteered for gardening work around the barrack and under that cover they were dumping the sand extracted from the tunnel into the garden outside," Superintendent of Police (Jails) R J Pargi said.

Jail authorities have booked a case against the 14 blast suspects including the two key accused — 40-year-old Abu Bashr of Azamgarh and 24-year-old Usman Aggarbatiwala of Vadodara. The minister of state for Home Rajnikant Patel has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Police sources said the accused had been digging the tunnel for six months now. Their work was so discreet that no jail officer suspected anything amiss until the guard noticed the wet soil and raised an alarm. The bomb disposal squad and the dog squad checked the premises to ensure the tunnel was not dug to hide explosives or weapons and no suspicious objects were found.

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