Farhan Akhtar-starrer Lucknow Central has hit silver screen this Friday. The film’s premise is based on a jail break attempted by a group of prisoners bonding through music. Many films and novels have been inspired by prison breaks, which has been a subject of fascination for many. Whether it be The Count of Monte Cristo or The Great Escape, there is no dearth of stories based on prison breaks. India also has seen some of the most clever and audacious prison breaks that will make you sit back and take notice.
India also has seen some of the most clever and audacious prison breaks that will make you sit back and take notice. Take a look at a few cases of prison break that had created headlines:
1) Sher Singh Rana:
Sher Singh Rana rose to prominence after he killed bandit-turned-MP Phoolan Devi on July 25, 2001. Rana supposedly killed the parliamentarian to avenge the death of 22 upper-caste villagers of Behmai village whom she allegedly killed on February 14, 1981, in cold blood. Rana was held on July 27 from Dehradun and was transported to Tihar Jail. When inside, he and his brother Vikram hatched a plan to escape prison and took help of his friend Sandeep Thakur execute it. Thakur visited Rana four times during his time at Tihar, posing as advocate Pradeep Kumar thrice and once as a friend. On February 17, 2004, Sandeep visited Tihar again, this time posing as a cop assigned to take Rana to Haridwar Court. He convinced the jail officials with the fake documents and the trio happily walked out of the jail. The police finally caught up with him two years later and arrested him in Kolkata.
2) Jagtar Singh Hawara:
A member of terror outfit Babbar Khalsa, Hawara was a convicted co-conspirator in the assassination of 12th Chief Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh. Right after his arrest in 1998, Hawara was imprisoned in the Burail Jail of Chandigarh. His first three attempts to dig a tunnel to escape did not succeed. In his first attempt, he dug a 35-foot tunnel under the kitchen barracks of the jail but that didn’t work out. The next two attempts were also unsuccessful. Once he dug a tunnel at the jail’s Gurudwara barracks which caved in while the other tunnel he never got to use because he was moved to a different barrack. Finally, he along with three other prisoners dug an 8-foot deep and 108-foot long tunnel which crossed two security walls and opened 20 meters away from the outer perimeter wall of the prison. On the early hours of January 21, 2004, Hawara and other accomplishes crawled through the tunnel. He was arrested a year later from Delhi.
3) Bettiah jail-break:
Eight prisoners who were facing charges of dacoity, abduction, murder and rape executed an audacious jail break plan in August 2002. The prisoners sawed off an iron rod of a door in ward no 8 making an opening of about one foot. They dipped the iron-filer used to saw off iron rod into grease to muffle its sound. They tied dhoti, shawl and towel to make a rope to scale the 14-feet high wall. Eight prisoners escaped, however, Mohan Sah, the ninth member of the fleeing troupe could not scale the wall. He was later captured by the authorities.
4) Charles Sobhraj:
There are very few criminals who can match up to the calibre of Charles Sobhraj in the art of deception. Widely believed to be a psychopath, Sobhraj allegedly committed at least a dozen murders to pursue his opulent lifestyle. Sobhraj was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a slew of crimes he committed in India. He was to be extradited to Thailand after having served his sentence in India where he would definitely have been executed had he been sentenced. The arrest warrant in Thailand was valid for 20 years. In March 1986, his tenth year in prison, Sobhraj threw a big house party in Tihar, drugged guards and fellow inmates with sleeping pills and simply walked out of the jail. Mumbai police apprehended Sobhraj at a restaurant in Goa and thus his prison term was prolonged by ten more years. Sobhraj was released in February 1997 with most warrants, evidence and even witnesses against him long lost and without any country to extradite him.
Arguably India’s greatest con artist, Natwarlal had sold Taj Mahal, Red Fort and even Rashtrapati Bhawan. In his life time he was sentenced to over 113 years of prison time, however, he barely served 20. Born as Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava in Bihar’s Siwan district, he was a lawyer by profession before he came a con man. His last great escape was at the age of 84 on June 24, 1996, when vanished from custody at the New Delhi Railway station while being taken on a wheelchair from Kanpur to AIIMS for treatment. Even in his death, he lived up to his legend. In 2009, his lawyer requested that more than 100 charges pending against Natwarlal be dropped claiming that Natwarlal died on Saturday, July 25, 2009. However, Natwarlal’s brother, Ganga Prasad Srivastava, subsequently claimed to have cremated him in 1996 at Ranchi. So his actual time of death is uncertain.