It's a situation strictly found in film scripts. Only this time, the drama that unfolded after 16 inmates flee a Rajasthan jail was real and got recorded. On Monday, 16 prisoners escaped from Phalodi sub-jail in Rajasthan's Jodhpur district. The inmates may or may not have been meticulous in the planning of their escape but they definitely succeeded in fleeing after throwing black pepper powder in the eyes of the jail guards.

They first threw chilli pepper in the eyes of the female guard stationed at the food mess. After throwing pepper, the prisoners also beat up the jail guards as per the statements given by the jail officials. The prisoners then made a daring, well-planned escape via a Scorpio believed to be parked strategically outside the jail premises.

Prison break
[Representational image]Creative Commons

The incident took place at around 8.30 am and all the police stations have been informed and are on high alert. The CCTV footage of all the nearby areas is being monitored and other inmates are being questioned for details. The officials immediately also barricaded the area leading to the surrounding districts of Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Barmer.

Who all have pulled a Houdini?

The majority of those who have escaped are believed to be locals and the hunt is on for them. Among the officials who immediately reached the spot were Phalodi sub-divisional magistrate Yashpal Ahuja, who informed that three of those absconding are from Bihar, while the rest are from Phalodi, Lohawat and other areas of Jodhpur itself. Reportedly, most of them were charged for drugs and murder, under Sections 302 of the Indian Penal Code and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Who's at fault and who is saying what?

Any administrative failure should have repercussions. A plan of action that aims at assigning responsibility and fixing the loophole. Four officials, which also include the head constable, have been suspended for negligence. Union Minister and BJP MP from Jodhpur Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has pointed fingers at the state government and said that the incident marks the failure of the state government. "Law and order in the state is in a critical shape including the condition of prisons," he said. 

Prisons and jails
As of December 31, 2014, there were 1,387 functioning jails in India with a capacity to house 356,561 prisoners according to NCRB data. [Representational Image]Reuters

In 2019, yet another prison break in Rajasthan

It was only last to last year, in June when three convicts in separate rape cases escaped from the Jhalawar district jail in Rajasthan. While one of them was immediately traced, the three jail inmates had managed to flee by jumping over the 18-foot-high wall using blankets. While the incident took place in the morning, it was only during the evening roll call that their absence came to be noticed.