Prison Breaks

Unconscious Policemen at the Police Station in Durgapur

Yesterday, a news item in Kolkata’s newspaper The Telegraph, has caught my eye. Some prisoners have escaped from Durgapur’s prison, West Bengal, India by offering spiked soft drinks to the authorities. Two persons, thus freed six gangsters. This immediately reminded me a similar, and very very famous story of Charles Sobhraj’s prison break from a high security prison, Tihar in New Delhi and I am more surprised that the same tactic is used again.

A photo of Charles Sobhraj

In movies also, there are few famous prison breaks are worth mentioning, but one which I would like to mention is from the famous movie, Sholay. Here Jai and Veeru, used “disinformation”, a term I am borrowing from Mr Frederick Forsyth’s novel, ICON. They knew about the jailer’s informer, and used him to let the jailer believe that they are in possession of a pistol. The jailer became vulnerable because he thought that his prisoners were dangerous, which led to error in judgement on his part.
In above two situations, the second ploy is definitely more intelligent and requires more planning and on the surface, would appear to be more likely to succeed. But in reality, I would like to stress that this is less likely to taste success as there are too many factors or dependencies, which adds to the plan’s vulnerability. e.g. The informant’s closeness to jailer, the jailer’s intelligence, timing the escape and skill of the prisoners in carrying out the stunt (in this case, Jai and Veeru.)
A jail scene from movie Sholay. Hariram Nai, the jailer’s informer, is also in the picture.
But in the first instance, there are only two factors – greed and memory. And this is established for centuries that a human being is very susceptible to these. Greed always blinds a man’s wisdom and memory seldom serves human properly. So here we have a plan whose cornerstone is established and it may look as a very simple plan, but in reality, this is the simplicity which makes it likely to succeed. I have no doubt that above is not the last instance of jail break using the method one.