NEW DELHI (AFP) - An Indian gangster linked to dozens of murders escaped from police custody after apparently serving food laced with sedatives to officers guarding him, police and local media reports said on Thursday.
Vikram Paras, 27, carried out the daring escape as four armed officers were escorting him from the busy Old Delhi Railway Station in the capital early on Wednesday, a local officer said.
Paras, allegedly involved in dozens of cases of murder, extortion and robbery, was being brought back to Delhi by train after a court appearance at Bhatinda in neighbouring Punjab state.
"He is a desperate contract killer. We have launched an investigation based on the information that we have as of now. We are hopeful of nabbing him soon," Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told AFP.
Bhagat said police were still trying to establish exactly what happened, after three of his guards were found unconscious at the railway station while the fourth was found dazed in a nearby street.
"They were mostly incoherent when a police team reached them," railway police officer Surender Singh told AFP.
Paras offered food at the station to the four officers at the station, which his accomplices had contaminated with drugs, before stealing their guns and fleeing, according to the Times of India.
"Four of his accomplices were probably trailing him.... possibly in police uniform, and were ready at the station with an SUV. They would have supplied the sedated food as well," the newspaper said, quoting sources.
The newspaper said this was not the first time that Paras, who had been in custody since his arrest in March, has escaped his police guards.
In 2012 Paras, who gained notoriety as the right-hand man of a now slain criminal gang lord, fled after "luring his escorts into a store on the promise of buying them branded apparel", the newspaper said.