Ahmedabad/Udaipur: Five Gujarat policemen have been arrested in connection with the escape of a key witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. The arrested policemen, however, were released on bail, police said.

The five were arrested for the escape of Sylvester, a close aide of slain gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh, from their custody.

Sylvester, who was lodged in Vadodara jail, escaped from police custody in Udaipur, Rajasthan, where he had been taken for a court hearing yesterday. He was caught late in the evening by the Rajasthan police.

He is a key witness in Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, being probed by CBI.

"After the arrest of Sylvester, it has been established that the Gujarat police team had taken the accused to his house in Bhopalpura (Rajasthan) after producing him in a court
on Friday," a senior Rajasthan police officer said.

"There was certainly carelessness of Gujarat police who instead of going back to Gujarat took him to his house on request of the accused. He wanted to meet his family members
and had managed to flee from there. Sylvester was rearrested late last night from the same locality," Additional SP Udaipur (City) Tejraj Singh said.

"Gujarat police's Sub-Inspector M Guhil, head constable Ambalal, constables Vijay Babu and Ranchod Bhai and driver Gopal Singh were arrested in this connection and released on
bail today," he said.

Meanwhile, Gujarat DGP Chittranjan Singh said the arrested policemen have also been suspended.

"A departmental investigation has also been initiated against them," Singh said, addressing a joint press conference with Vadodra Police Commissioner Satish Sharma in Gandhinagar.

The DGP, however, denied that the policemen intentionally let Sylvester escape as he is a witness in the Sohrabuddin case in which former minister of state for home, Amit Shah, is
a prime accused.

"We learnt that the escort personnel had accompanied Sylvester to his house (in Udaipur). They had also got drunk at a hotel and were not in the state to do anything," Singh said.

"We do take actions against our own men. But the thing is, to police the cops it is very difficult..." he said.

Talking about the policemen's motive in letting Sylvester escape, the DGP said it could be for some personal gain.

Singh also praised the backing of Gujarat leaders, which helped police track down Sylvester within 24 hours of his escape.

According to Singh, after escaping from Udaipur (where he had been taken by Vadodara police for a court appearance), Sylvester headed for Ajmer, to threaten a party which was not agreeing to a land deal. He was nabbed while returning to Udaipur.

Vadodara Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said Sylvester was in constant touch with one of his lawyers, which helped in tracing him.

Sylvester is also facing a ransom case in Ahmedabad.

(Agencies)