This is yet another abject display of police inefficiency. They have allowed a dreaded prisoner to escape. The Police Department claims that it is treating the case on priority, that it is leaving no stone unturned to get the escaped prisoner back behind bars. But first, can they explain how is it that the prime accused in the Betalbatim gang rape was let out of sight long enough for him to escape? The man that the Goa Police were reluctant to hand over to Indore Police on a transfer warrant because they believed he could escape from the latter has escaped from the Goa Police clutches. What can be more embarrassing to the Police Department in the State? Isn’t this an example of just plain incompetence?
How could the police allow this escape to happen? The Betalbatim rape case was a horrific crime, the worst in recent years. To recall, Ishwar Makhwan is accused, along with his companions, of raping a girl in front of her boyfriend and filming the crime to use the footage to blackmail the victim. The crime had shocked Goa and a stunned population had yet to recover when it learnt that the prime accused Makhwan has a dark history in Indore, with eight rapes, 12 robberies and three murders, including a double murder. This was not his first time in Goa, he had been here before and was alleged to have committed some petty crimes in the past here too. This is the man who has escaped, a man with a crime sheet against his name and who is now running free somewhere, and a completely clueless police have announced a Rs 1 lakh reward to leads to his whereabouts. By the police department’s own admission, the rape accused is capable of hiding under extreme conditions and walking several kilometres. He could have crossed the State borders already.
Makhwan was admitted to the TB Hospital on November 27 and escaped on December 10. He had ample time to plan an escape and every person who came in contact with him during his hospital stay has to be investigated. Four policemen have been suspended for dereliction of duty leading to Makhwan’s escape. Suspension is too minor an action against the cops in this case. The police have to investigate their own here, yet again. A prisoner doesn’t just walk away from a hospital bed. Either he had some accomplices who were waiting for him or he was aided in his escape by the very policemen who were supposed to ensure he didn’t escape. What were the policemen guarding him doing when he escaped? He was discovered missing at 5.30 am, so were they sleeping on the job? There is even no clarity what time he slipped out of the hospital.
With the Chief Minister, who holds the Home portfolio, being treated for pancreatic cancer, there appears to be nobody in charge of the police force. A number of policemen have been suspended since November, heaping humiliation on the police force. And even as this happens, there has been an uncanny silence from the political class on the escape of the rape accused or on the police blunders of the past weeks. Not a single minister has opened up to condemn the escape or question the lax policing that led to the escape of the prisoner. Can the government still claim that the administration is in place and that governance has not failed? The instances of administrative failure are just rising as Goa plods along towards the end of the year with little achieved in these 12 months.