A man accused of the raping and murdering a 17-year-old girl near Manipal in Udupi district escaped from police custody while being escorted back to jail on Sunday. Hanumanthappa Basappa Kambali, from Bagalkot district, was arrested on Saturday in connection with the death of the minor, who was found near Moodusagri village in Udupi district on March 9. He was produced before the Magistrate Court and remanded to 14 days of judicial custody.
On Sunday, however, when Hanumanthappa was being escorted to the prison in Hiriadka, around 10 km away from Manipal, he surprised the police officials and escaped from the vehicle. “He was being escorted to the prison around 7.30 pm to be handed over to jail authorities. We are asking the public for more information on him. We have a few leads on where he might be and we are investigating that,” Udupi Superintendent of Police (SP) Nisha James told TNM.
Hanumanthappa is around 5 foot tall and was wearing a pair of green trousers when he escaped. He had earlier absconded soon after the death of the girl came to light.
The victim had gone missing on March 9 and was found by a resident of Moodu Sagri on the evening of March 10.
The police officials investigating the case had said that the victim's body was found in Moodu Sagri village near Doddanagudde in a wooded area, close to the railway tracks. There were signs that the victim was sexually assaulted and later strangulated.
The officials, who arrested Hanumanthappa on Saturday, said the accused had allegedly taken the victim to a secluded place after befriending her. They also said that she was killed when she reportedly threatened to disclose the incident.
Officials at the Forensic Medicine Department conducted a preliminary analysis of the body.
The Manipal police have booked the accused under the POCSO Act, along with sections 376A, 366A and 302.