Puducherry: A deputy superintendent in Puducherry Central Prison, a principal warder, a female warder and a male warder have been suspended for failing to prevent frequent meetings of a male life convict and a female undertrial prisoner.

Inspector general of prison Pankaj Kumar Jha suspended deputy superintendent of prison Ananthraj, principal warder Veeravasu, female warder Kalavathy and male warder Padmanabhan after he spotted the male convict and female undertrial together in the high-security prison during a surprise visit on Tuesday night.

Jha, who was on sick leave, joined duty on Tuesday. He swung into action as soon as he received complaints that 'Murder' Manikandan, a convict serving life term in a murder case, and Ezhilarasi, facing trial on charges of murdering former speaker of the legislative assembly V M C Sivakumar, have been meeting frequently in the last one week.

He undertook a surprise inspection and caught the convict and undertrial together red-handed on the same evening.

Jha summoned the jail authorities on duty and questioned them on the poor security measures that led to frequent meetings of male and female inmates. He suspended the four prison staffs on duty after they failed to offer any explanation.

Manikandan, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000 in connection with the murder of one Rajagopal in 1998, was booked by police in 12 cases including murders, attempts to murder, extortions and thefts and waylay robberies among others. He was also convicted in a theft case in 1999. He was acquitted in six cases. Three cases are in various stages of the trial. The Madras high court has quashed one case.

Ezhilarasi engaged goons to murder Sivakumar after he had refused to share the properties of her husband, Ramu alias Radhkrishnan, a liquor merchant. Sivakumar and Ramu were business-partners-turned foes after Ramu abandoned his first wife Vinodha and married Ezhilarasi.

Police suspect that Ezhilarasi might have approached Manikandan to eliminate the members of her rival gang by engaging his goons. Manikandan has been operating from prison masterminding criminal activities including murders and extortions with the help of his gang members.

Police have sought the Enforcement Directorate, Chennai zone, to initiate action against Manikandan under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 and to confiscate and attach real estate properties he has acquired by extortion.