UDAIPUR/VADODARA: Sylvester, a key witness in the Soharabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, made a dramatic escape from Gujarat police custody but was rearrested late in the night.
Sylvester, who fled after being produced in a court in Udaipur, was picked up by a Special Task Force of Rajasthan police from Gopalpura area in Udaipur near the Vrindavan Garden at around 10.30 pm.
"Acting on a tip-off, the special team arrested him," IG, Udaipur, Mr Govind Gupta, said. A loaded pistol was seized from Sylvester, Mr Anil Deval, STF officer who arrested him, said.
Vadodara Police Commissioner, Mr Satish Sharma said Sylvester was arrested as he tried to enter his house in Udaipur which had been cordoned off. There were different versions of how Sylvester, an alleged accomplice of Sheikh, managed to escape. While the Rajasthan police claimed that he gave the slip on the pretext of going to the toilet, the Gujarat police said he fled when they stopped for tea near the highway Friday night.
Sylvester, alias Dipu, was an important witness for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is probing the Soharabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. He was brought to Udaipur in connection with the murder of another alleged gangster Hamid Lala. The CBI has sought a detailed report from the Gujarat police on the incident, agency sources said in Ahmedabad.
Sylvester escaped when the police vehicle in which he was being taken back to Gujarat broke down near Reti stand in Udaipur Friday night, Mr Gupta said. "The accused Sylvester, alias Dipu, was produced in a local court by a team of Gujarat police and was being taken back to Gujarat when he managed to escape from their custody," he said. On the pretext of going to the toilet, he managed to escape from the scene, Mr Gupta said.
However, Gujarat police claimed Sylvester escaped when the police party stopped on the highway for tea. A complaint in this regard has been registered in Udaipur, he said. Sylvester, who was lodged in Vadodara jail, was an accused in a ransom case. Sheikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter on November 26, 2005. Fourteen policemen including three IPS officers are behind bars in the encounter case. The CBI believes Sylvester could be holding some important leads in connection with the Soharabbudin fake encounter and the subsequent murder of his wife Kausar Bi.