Kochi: At least four police officers in Kochi city have been put under confidential inquiry and observation after evidence emerged that a few in the force had helped the midnight killers of Students Federation of India (SFI) leader Abhimanyu flee. These officers allegedly leaked information on a police hunt for the killers who managed to leave the city within minutes of the murder on Maharaja's College campus around 1.30 am on July 2. The intelligence wing has collected details of personnel on duty that night and of those who took leave without taking prior permission.
Adding to suspicion, there was no regular patrolling or vehicle checking the night the murder was committed. Though four police stations have quick access to MG Road, Banerji Road, Shanmugham Road and Sahodaran Ayyappan Road, vehicles were not blocked or checked here. These were the only surface routes for the accused to flee the city. Four of the gang had moved past the South Police Station at Thevara in an autorickshaw to Thoppumpady. The routine night patrolling and vehicle checking were not carried out on July 1-2. The police alerted airports only after five days, despite being aware that five of the accused who went into hiding had passports.
Abhimanyu was rushed to the General Hospital, which is located near his college, within five minutes of the stabbing, and all four police stations in the city were notified within another five minutes. With the information available with the police within 10 minutes of the crime, the accused could not have managed to escape so easily, if the officers had moved swiftly to block the four escape routes.
All these four stations are within three kilometres of the college. Deserted roads in the wee hours of Monday could have enabled police vehicles to fan out on city roads. But all four stations responded late.
The authorities at the General Hospital, next door to Maharaja's, had informed the City Police Control Room immediately after they received a fatally injured Abhimanyu.
Strangely, a DySP based at Muvattupuzha, who had reported the incident to the Special Branch headquarters, received a threat on the phone, and his community was cited by the unidentified caller. A report on the communal divide in the police force is with the chief minister's office for scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the complicated probe itself has been handed over to an assistant commissioner who was under medical care after a heart attack.
The 20-year-old SFI leader was stabbed to death and two others were injured in an attack allegedly by members of the PFI, its student outfit Campus Front and political offshoot Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), at the Maharaja's College in Ernakulam.
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