The escape of convicted National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) militant Swarna Kumar Tripura from high-security central prison near Agartala in the early hours of May 14, 2021, marked his third escape since 2016. This incident has brought the fleeing of an international ATM hacker, Hakan Zanburkan, into the spotlight.

Zanburkan, a Turkish national, managed to evade his guards during a medical check-up here on July 9, 2021, and is still at large. Along with two other fellow nationals, Zanburkan had committed a series of ATM scams in various parts of India and was eventually caught in Tripura after looting lakhs through ATM card cloning at various bank booths.

Two Bangladeshis and at least two local collaborators were arrested in connection with the case, but one of the alleged collaborators later died in police custody. Initially, the State government assigned the Crime Branch (CB) to investigate the escape of Zanburkan.

Despite their efforts, the CB failed to track down the fugitive, with many speculating that he may have fled to Bangladesh. The investigating team did manage to arrest 10 people, including five prison inmates, for allegedly facilitating the escape of the international fraudster.

On July 22, 2021, the Tripura government appointed a judicial commission, headed by former High Court Judge Justice S.C. Das, to inquire into the circumstances leading to Zanburkan’s escape and identify any negligence on the part of officials and personnel.

In spite of the commission submitting its findings to the government a few years ago, prisoners like Swarna Kumar Tripura continue to escape from the central prison. The prison authorities on Wednesday suspended Warder Tapan Rupini and Jail Gate Guard Mafiz Mia for helping the escape.

An FIR in Bishalgarh police station has been registered against the runaway murder convict, two jail staff and unknown collaborators.

Swarna Kumar Tripura had scaled the maximum height wall to escape the prison in 2016, this time he managed to escape through the gate. The murder convict NLFT extremist had also escaped from a sub-jail in north Tripura in 2022, but was captured within weeks.

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