Extensive Manhunt launched for notorious criminal



Panaji: An extensive manhunt has been launched, a day after Michael Fernandes, wanted in 19 cases and being investigated for accepting a contract to harm the family members of State Home Minister Ravi Naika managed to escape from police custody.

Superintendent of Police Arvind Gawas told a news agency that almost 100 policemen were combing the area around Panaji to nab Fernandes.

Police have increased picketing on Panaji-Margao and Panaji-Ponda highway and resorted to intense checking of the vehicles, he said.

Fernandes (23) escaped yesterday after being referred for psychological treatment to Bambolim's Institute of Psychiatry and Human Behaviour. This was his fifth escape from police or judicial custody over the last few years.

However, his accomplice Dipak Kesarkar, who had managed to flee along with Fernandes has been apprehended. Following the incident, four policemen including a head constable have been placed under suspension for dereliction of their duties.

A senior police officer said the escort cell had issued a memo to its staff after Fernandes recently threw an open challenge to the police to keep him behind bars.

The staff was told that he should not be taken out without handcuffs. Even yesterday he was handcuffed, however, they were removed for medical examination, when he managed to flee.

Fernandes has a history of jail breaks, the latest being on February 22, when he jumped from a moving police van and disappeared. He was recaptured on April 11 from a dense forest at Khola in Canacona near here.

Gawas said the criminal is wanted in almost 19 cases across Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa. Even after his February escape he had threatened and robbed a foreigner at Canacona, threatened a family at Goa Velha village and committed robbery at Bicholim and Kankavli (Maharashtra).

PTI