Mumbai, Sep 26 (IANS) An accused in the Shakti Mills complex gang rape case 'disappeared' from Thane jail Thursday and could not be produced in court.
This was the second embarrassment for the Mumbai Police after a terror accused escaped from a court barely a week ago.
Later, it turned out that accused Siraj Rehman Khan was actually in Thane jail.
The faux pas was highlighted during a routine case procedure when Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam informed the sessions court that Khan, lodged in Thane jail, could not be traced.
Nikam's revelation came when Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi enquired why Khan was not present with the other three accused produced in court -- Kasim Bengali, Salim Ansari and Vijay Jadhav.
A warrant was issued a couple of days back seeking Khan's presence in the court Thursday.
Later, Nikam told mediapersons that Thane jail staff said Khan was not in their premises though Mumbai Police insisted he was there.
The court has now summoned Thane jail superintendent to give an explanation on the issue Friday and adjourned the matter.
The top jail authorities are ascertaining the administrative reasons which prevented Khan's court presence as required.
Khan is among the five accused, including a minor, who had gang raped a woman photojournalist in the desolate Shakti Mills complex near Mahalaxmi Aug 22 where she had gone on assignment with a male colleague.
Afzal Usmani, a suspected Indian Mujahiddeen operative and accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts, escaped from the court premises near Kalaghoda in south Mumbai Sep 20 where he was brought for a hearing from Taloja jail.
Mumbai and Thane police have formed a dozen special teams to track Usmani who remains at large.