A "military deserter" accused of stealing weapons from an Army institute escaped from police custody on Tuesday by scaling the wall of a hospital in Punjab's Hoshiarpur, where he was undergoing treatment for an injury, officials said.
Five policemen, including two assistant sub-inspectors, have been suspended for negligence, they said.
The accused, Harpreet Singh, 25, had been undergoing treatment at the Hoshiarpur civil hospital for a hand injury since December 31, the police said.
"He hoodwinked our policemen by making an excuse of going to the washroom," Hoshiarpur senior police officer Gaurav Garg said, adding that he will be caught soon. "We have substantial leads and we are working on them," he said.
At least four policemen were guarding Mr Singh at the hospital. He tricked them and escaped by scaling the wall of the hospital at around 4:30 am, the officials said, adding that he was kept at a jail in Punjab's Hoshiarpur district.
Mr Singh is facing charges for stealing two INSAS rifles and ammunition from the Army's training institute in Madhya Pradesh's Pachmarhi, the police said. He was a sepoy in the Indian Army and was arrested from Chotala village near Tanda in Hoshiarpur in December last year. He was declared a "military deserter" in October that year, they said.
His three accomplices were also arrested at that time. Posing as Army officers, the accused had stolen the weapons and ammunition in the early hours of December 6 last year, they added.
The stolen arms and ammunition have been recovered, the police said.