jail
The police have reached the prison and have also launched an investigation into the incident.Reuters

At least five armed men broke into the premises of the high-security Nabha Jail near Patiala in Punjab and freed six gangsters, including Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) Chief Harminder Singh Mintoo. The incident took place around 9 am on Sunday.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has called for an emergency meeting following the incident.  The state government has also announced a reward of Rs 25 lakh to any person who provides them with information that could lead to the arrest of the prisoners.

The Punjab Police has also formed an SIT to probe the escape of the six gangsters. 

According to ANI, the armed men were wearing police uniforms and fired over 100 rounds after which they fled the spot. 

"They sprayed more than 100 rounds of ammunitions before our security guards could react to the situation," police sources told News18.

The other four gangsters who were liberated are — Gurpreet Singh, Vicky Gondra, Nitin Deol and Vikramjeet Singh Vicky.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said that Nabha Jail's director general of prisons, along with the jail's superintendent and deputy superintendent of police, have been suspended following the prison break.

"A Special Task force under the intelligence has been set up to track these criminals. The police is on duty. Ek jagah thoda encounter bhi hua hai. We will catch them. A team under the additional director general of police (ADGP) has been formed to investigate the incident. Strict action will be taken against whoever is responsible," Badal told the media.

The Punjab government has also ordered that an Enquiry Committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Jagpal Singh Sandhu be constituted to look into security lapses.

 A high alert has been sounded across the state. The Punjab Police have been stopping cars for additional checks.

"The state is on high alert after the Punjab jail break. We are checking suspicious vehicles and are on strict vigil," a policeman on duty told ANI.

Meanwhile, an unarmed woman has been killed in police firing after the car she was travelling in refused to stop at the police picket in the city of Samana in Punjab.

There is also a meeting going on between Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and the Director General of Police (DGP) over the prison break.

"Six known criminals and terrorists were able to escape. Investigation on who's fault it was is underway. Five criminals dressed as police came in a car with an excuse that they were here to lodge a criminal. They were carrying small arms. Later, they overpowered the guard," Punjab DGP Suresh Arora told reporters. He added that the rest of the information would be given following the completion of the investigation.

However, an eyewitness told ANI that there were "at least 20 men — one dressed in ASI uniform, others dressed in police uniforms" adding that the armed men "opened indiscriminate fire."

"Concerned agencies will take cognizance of this and do what is appropriate. We have been given to understand that the government is in full control," Minister of State Jitendra Singh told the media.

The Home Ministry has sought a report from the Punjab government on the incident. The home secretary spoke to DGP Arora on the incident and has also briefed the home minister about the same.

"Ready to provide whatever assistance required. I have asked the Home Secretary to ask for a report from Punjab government," Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh said.

Punjab Congress Chief Amarinder Singh has lashed out at the state government and said: "The incident has exposed a complete breakdown of law and order in the state. The manner in which the gangsters walkedd into the high-security jail and freed the dreaded Khalistani terrorist clearly shows complicity at the highest levels. Yeh jail break hui hai aur main dawaa karta hoon ki ismein (Punjab) sarkaar ka haath hai (I can assure you that the Punjab government is responsible for this jail break)... I demand President's Rule in the state in wake of Nabha jail break that wouldn't have been possible sans connivance of the Badal government."

Mintoo, an accused in 10 terror cases, was arrested from the Delhi airport in 2014. 

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