NICOLE TAMANG ESCAPE INVESTIGATION: Cell slip after cell signal blow – Cop moves out to take fading call, Nickole escapes – the mystery deepens while discrepancies & contradictions remain ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY AVIJIT SINHA
WITH TELEGRAPH BUREAU REPORTS
Siliguri, Aug. 23: The failing signal on the cellphone of a constable paved the way for the escape of Nickole Tamang from Pintail Village yesterday morning.
The policeman and his colleague were in charge of guarding the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha central committee member, the prime accused in the Madan Tamang murder. According to the CID that took him into custody, a little before 6.30am yesterday, Nickole informed the constable guarding him in a Pintail cottage that he wanted to use the washroom. At that moment, Arabinda Kumbhakar who was with Tamang — the other guard having stepped out for tea — received a call on his cell. The signal being weak, Kumbhakar stepped out of the room and walked towards where the reception was clearer.
When Nickole opened the washroom door and found the constable away, he slipped out. Police records show that Kumbhakar was away from his post in Nickole’s room from 6.32am to 6.40am, providing him with eight vital minutes to make his getaway. “Nickole cleverly guessed from the fading voice of the constable talking on his cell that he was moving away from the room. He took the chance,” an officer said.
Nickole had other factors working in his favour too. Very few people were around because of the incessant rain and only a handful knew that a murder accused in police remand had been kept in Pintail overnight. Moreover, the CID had sent away an escort team provided by Darjeeling police to guard him.
“Nickole Tamang did not break any windows or squeeze out of the skylight,” P. Nirajnayan, IG, CID, told The Telegraph. “He walked out of the room on finding no guards around. It was a serious lapse on the part of the policemen.”
Nickole possibly went out of the back door of the cottage as it is closer to the two walls, the inner and the outer, and then scaled them. If adept, it is possible to complete such an operation in eight to 10 minutes.
“Nickole knows Pintail like the back of his hand,” an officer said. “He would know the quickest way out.”
The police said around the time Nickole escaped, a few people saw a man in a vest and a pair of shorts — the clothes the suspect was wearing when he escaped — walking towards Panchnoibusty, a kilometre from Pintail and known to be a Morcha stronghold.
At Writers’ Buildings state home secretary Samar Ghosh said today: “We are trying to re-arrest Nickole Tamang. The borders are being closely monitored to prevent escape…If it was a case of security lapse, then the why and how of it must be brought to light. If he was assisted in his escape, then that would also be revealed in the probe.”
AND ALSO HIGHLIGHTED ON THE BENGAL PAGE
Guard on phone, Nickole walks out – Faint cell signal paves way – laying it on thick for all to believe ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY AVIJIT SINHA
Siliguri, Aug. 23: Nickole Tamang apparently escaped yesterday morning when one of the policemen guarding him stepped away from him to take a cellphone call as the signal was feeble.
CID officers said that a little before 6.30am, Nickole told constable Arabinda Kumbhakar he wanted to go to the toilet attached to the ground floor room of cottage No. 29, where he was being detained.
A few minutes later, the constable — the other on-duty guard had gone out for tea — received a call on his cellphone. But the signal being weak, Kumbhakar stepped out of the room and walked further away where the reception was clearer.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader came out of the toilet after some time and, finding the constable busy speaking over the phone in another corner of the cottage, quietly slipped out, the police said.
“It appears that Nickole cleverly guessed from the fading voice of the constable that he was moving away from the room. He grabbed the opportunity to escape,” a police officer said.
Kumbhakar found Nickole’s room empty after he finished his conversation and raised the alarm.
Police records show that Kumbhakar was away from his post between 6.32am and 6.40am, handing Nickole, the prime accused in the Madan Tamang murder case, eight minutes to make his getaway.
The police said Nickole probably slipped out of the back door of the cottage as it is closer to the boundary wall of the cottage. As the cottage was at one corner of the Pintail Village complex, the main compound wall was also nearby. Nickole could have scaled both the walls and escaped. The police said the whole episode would not have taken more than eight to 10 minutes for a fit person.
The police said Nickole had slipped out unchallenged as there were few people around because of incessant rain. Also, few in Pintail Village were aware of Nickole’s presence there.
“Nickole did not break any windows or squeeze out through the skylight,” said P. Nirajnayan, the inspector-general, CID, told The Telegraph today. “He simply walked out of the room as no guards were around. It was a serious lapse on the part of the policemen guarding him.”
“Nickole knows Pintail Village like the back of his hand as the Morcha had occupied it for several months,” an officer said. “He would know the quickest way of escaping from there.”
The police said that around the time Nickole escaped, some people saw a young man in a vest and a pair of shorts — the clothes the Morcha leader was wearing yesterday morning — walking towards Panchnoibusty, a Morcha stronghold 1km from Pintail Village.
“We carried out raids at Panchnoibusty but did not find anybody,” a police officer said. “If he had at all gone there, he must have escaped by now, knowing fully well that we would raid that place.”
The police also carried out searches in various parts of Sukna and Matigara as well.
State home secretary Samar Ghosh said today: “We are trying to re-arrest Nickole Tamang as soon as possible. The borders are being monitored to stop him from escaping.”
‘Tamang escape a case of negligence’ – not a cover-up of another murder most foul at all ?!!
From The Hindu Special Correspondent
KOLKATA, Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010: Even as normal life was affected in the Darjeeling hills on Monday following a bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, a preliminary report on the escape of Nikol Tamang, one of the prime accused in the case of killing of prominent politician Madan Tamang, blames it on “negligence.”
Nikol escaped while in the West Bengal CID’s custody early on Sunday.
“A preliminary report suggests prima facie that his escape is tantamount to negligence,” Additional Director-General, CID, Raj Kanojia, told The Hindu here. Two policemen have been placed under suspension.
The GJM, which called for the bandh from Sunday afternoon in the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district, alleges that Nikol had been “killed in custody.”
“We want him alive,” Roshan Giri, GJM general secretary, said from Darjeeling. There were others in the party leadership who feared that Nikol might be “a victim of third degree torture while in custody.”
Processions were taken out by GJM supporters in the hill town in support of the bandh which, political observers say, is a ploy to counter the bandh called by the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha Legue (ABGL) for Tuesday.
“Result of conspiracy”
The ABGL — opposed to the GJM which is demanding the creation of a separate Gorkhaland State — is blaming the escape of Nikol on a “conspiracy” by the West Bengal Government and the GJM. Its leadership has written to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee demanding that investigations into the killing of its president, Madan Tamang, in Darjeeling on May 21 be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, said ABGL adviser, S.B. Zimba, now in New Delhi.
The sudden bandh call in the hills took tourists by surprise and the police made special arrangements for them to leave Darjeeling. Commercial establishments and educational institutions were closed.
A special alert has been sounded in the Darjeeling hills and surrounding areas following Nikol’s escape. Close vigil is being maintained at the outposts along the district’s border with Nepal, with the Sashatra Seema Bal being informed of the development.
THE NATURAL FALLOUT
Redeploy CRPF companies in Darjeeling: Bengal to Centre – not embarrassed nor apologetic, but even more aggressive ?!!
From The Indian Express
Kolkata, Tue Aug 24 2010, 04:11 hrs (ENS): A day after Nicole Tamang, the prime accused in the murder of AIGL president Madan Tamang, escaped from CID custody, Chief Secretary Ardhendu Sen on Monday wrote to Union Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai requesting him to re-deploy the three companies of CRPF that were withdrawn by the Centre from Darjeeling on August 16.
Meanwhile, the report of the IB under the state police, a copy of which has been accessed by The Indian Express, has put the CID in the dock for Nicole’s escape.
According to the report sent to Home Secretary Samar Ghosh, Nicole was kept at Pradhannagar police station after his arrest on August 16 and was brought everyday to Pintel village for interrogation and taken back to the police station in the evening. “It was on August 21, the day he escaped from custody, that Nicole, instead of being brought back to Pradhannagar police station, was kept at Pintel village,” said the IB note.
“The role of Ardhendu Sekhar Pahari, Investigating Officer of the CID, is highly suspicious. He is responsible for the escape,” said a senior police officer.
The police raided several places in and around Pintel village on Monday but failed to trace Nicole. “All neighbouring districts and states have been alerted as we have launched a massive manhunt,” said Ghosh.
Centre urged to restore three CRPF companies in Darjeeling – to find more victims like Nicole ?!!
From The Press Trust Of India
Kolkata, August 24, 2010, 01:10 IST: West Bengal Government on Monday asked the Centre to re-deploy the three companies of CRPF in the Darjeeling hills in view of the volatile situation after the escape of Nicol Tamang, the prime accused in the murder of AIGL chief Madan Tamang.
State Home Secretary Samar Ghosh told reporters that he had written a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs urging redeployment of the three companies of CRPF immediately to keep a check on the worsening situation arising out of frequent bandhs and the escape of Nicol Tamang from custody.
“When the three companies of CRPF were there in the hills, the state government had urged the Centre to send additional two companies, but instead of doing that the Centre withdrew them for deployment in Jammu and Kashmir,” Ghosh said.
On Nicol Tamang’s escape, Ghosh said efforts were underway to arrest him and investigations were being made by senior CID officials to see if there was any negligence or security lapses.
A sub-inspector and a constable had been suspended for dereliction of duty and an alert sounded in the district and state borders, he said, adding vigil in all police stations in north Bengal had been strengthened.
He said armed police would remain deployed in the hills till the CRPF arrived.
GJM leader bolts from custody – Bharati Tamang calls for CBI to step in, same as the GJM’s initial call, can’t see initial wisdom – can she, nor be wise ?!!
From The Indian Express
New Delhi/Kolkata: Mon, Aug 23, 2010, 04:11 hrs (ENS): DARJEELING is staring at a law and order problem with Nicole Tamang, the main accused in the murder of Madan Tamang, the president of All India Gorkha League (AIGL), escaping from CID custody at Pintel village near Siliguri on Sunday.
While two police officers have been suspended in this connection, Bharati Tamang, wife of the slain leader, has demanded that the investigation pertaining to the case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Bharati and some top AIGL leaders have been camping in Delhi, meeting Union ministers to push for more arrests in the case. The AIGL team has met Home Minister P Chidambaram, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Law Minister Veerappa Moily.
“The government of West Bengal has conspired with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and made it possible for the accused to escape from the custody of CID. We appeal to you to hand over the case to the CBI as we have lost all faith in the West Bengal government,” she has said in a letter to Chidambaram.
The GJM, on the other hand, has alleged that Nicole died of torture and his body was cremated clandestinely. It has called for an indefinite strike demanding that Tamang be produced alive within 24 hours.
“Nicole was sick and we suspect he has fallen victim to excessive torture by the CID. The state government is hiding his body. We demand that he be produced within 24 hours or we will go for a bigger strike,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, GJM spokesperson. He added that he was going to write to Chidambaram and the National Human Rights Commission chairman regarding the issue.
GJM posters dotting the hills have also threatened that AIGL leaders Bharati Tamang, Pratap Khati will not be allowed to enter the area. “Bimal Gurung is not the zamindar of Darjeeling. It is a democratic country and everybody has the right to go anywhere,” Khati told The Indian Express reacting to the posters.
The AIGL has criticised the state government for its laxity in making arrests in the case and connected this to the secretarial-level tripartite talks held between the Centre, state government and the GJM on August 17. “Three things have happened simultaneously: withdrawal of CRPF forces from Darjeeling, announcement of Bimal Gurung dropping Siliguri and Dooars from his demand, and escape of Nicole from CID custody. This smacks of conspiracy of the Bengal government,” said Bharati’s letter.
Nicole was arrested on August 16, a day ahead of the talks, and there were fears that he would be used as a bargaining chip to persuade the GJM to agree on certain points.
“Nicole was kept at Pratap Nagar police station and on Saturday taken to Pintel village. What is intriguing is the fact that on that very day four policemen were allowed to go on leave. Nicole went to the bathroom at 3 am and never returned. But according to the CID at 6:30 am he was found missing,” said a source in Darjeeling.
The AIGL has called for a 24-hour bandh on Monday and its leaders have said that the GJM’s call for bandh was aimed at thwarting theirs. “We will take steps according to the developments,” assured state DGP Bhupinder Singh. Regarding the withdrawal of two companies of the CRPF, he said, “What do you do if the Centre takes such a decision?” (Indian Express)
PLUS THE BENGAL LEANING MEDIA OFFENSIVE
‘Insider’ angle in investigation ambit too – why so defensive for blatant mismanagement, a cultural trait ?!!
From The Times of India
KOLKATA, Aug 24, 2010, 05.56am IST (TNN): Some senior CID officers defend their colleagues in the Nicole Tamang “escape” controversy, saying there is no specific rule that bars them from keeping an accused in their camp at night. “We are also not bound to inform local police,” said a CID officer. But some of his colleagues agreed that all probe agencies take the help of local police to hold an accused when the agency does not have its own lock-up.
Sources said the CID team escorting Nicole suggested to their leader, inspector Ardhendu Sekhar Pahari, that the accused be sent to the police lock-up for the night after the team returned from a day of futile raids. But Pahari personally wanted to interrogate Nicole throughout the night and sent back the district police escort team, say sources, adding that Pahari was questioning him even moments before he fled.
When Nicole wanted to relieve himself, he was sent with a CID constable to the toilet. The initial inquiry report suggest that the constable did not stand guard in front of the toilet door but went off to another part of the corridor.
CID investigators believe Nicole quietly out the main entrance of the cottage. “When he came out, there was probably no one in the corridor. He took the chance and fled,” said a police officer. “It was raining hard and visibility was poor. Which is why the IRB jawans in charge of the complex did not see him,” said another officer.
It was several minutes before the CID team in the interrogation room realized that Nicole had not returned. They sent another constable who found the toilet door ajar and no one inside. He raised the alarm but by then, Nicole had scaled the walls and fled.
“Senior CID officers are investigating how Nicole managed to flee. Whether it was negligence or any insider helped him to escape will be investigated,” said home secretary Samar Ghosh.
Nicole may have taken main door out – on a stairway to heaven or hell ?!!
The Times of India
KOLKATA, Aug 24, 2010, 07.05am IST (TNN): Two days after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Nicole Tamang disappeared from CID custody, police are still in the dark even as the Morcha sets the Hills on the boil claiming Nicole was killed in a fake encounter. To add to the CID’s embarrassment, initial investigation suggests Nicole may have simply walked out the main door rather than making a dramatic jump from a window as claimed by his escorts on Sunday.
CID special superintendent Nishad Parvez — who was sent to Siliguri to probe Nicole’s ‘escape’ — has submitted an initial report to his superiors, reportedly pointing out instances of serious negligence by the CID team, led by inspector Ardhendu Sekhar Pahari.
Sources say that the CID team could not explain why he was kept in Pintail village for the night rather than being locked up in Pradhan Nagar police station. The CID apparently did not inform police that they were interrogating Nicole in a temporary camp (a duplex house in the tourist complex) that had no lock-up.
The probe report suggests that all members of the CID team are responsible for the incident. Two of them have already been suspended.
“Some others may face departmental action,” hinted a senior CID officer.
Manhunt launched for political murder accused – trying to smother the blunders of the past delays since May 21, 2010 as this is August 24, 2010 ?!!
From Times Now
23 Aug 2010, 1036 hrs IST, AGENCIES: A massive manhunt has been launched to recapture key accused in Gorkha Leader Madan Tamang’s murder case, Nickol Tamang. Senior Gorkha Janamukti Morcha leader — Nickol Tamang had escaped from CID custody in Pintail Village, near Siliguri yesterday where he was lodged for questioning in Madan Tamang’s murder on May 21 this year.
The West Bengal police have now announced a high alert following his escape and security agencies have been asked to keep a close watch on all international borders.
Debendra Pratap Singh, SP, Darjeeling said, “There has been a loophole & inquiry is going on. Our priority is to find him. Senior officers of CID will also reach the spot. Stringent actions will be taken against the people who are responsible for this.”
The SP said search operation was going on to nab the fugitive and borders with Nepal at Panitanki and Pashupatinath had been sealed to prevent his fleeing to the Himalayan country.
After the news of Nickol Tamang’s escape spread, AIGL supporters gheraoed the Darjeeling district police station demanding his re-arrest, the police said.
Suspecting foul play in his “disappearance”, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri called an indefinite hill strike from Sunday till Nickol, a member of the GJM central committee, returned unscathed and was produced in a court of law.
Madan Tamang was hacked to death on May 21 near the Planters’ Club in Darjeeling town while he was overseeing preparations for a public meeting. A cell phone had been recovered from the spot belonging to Nickol Tamang.
Nicole Tamang yet to be traced, case filed against him – an exercise in futility ?!!
From The Indian Express
Siliguri, Mon Aug 23 2010, 12:11 hrs (ENS): A case has been filed against Nicole Tamang, the prime accused in the murder of All India Gorkha League president Madan Tamang, after he escaped from CID custody in Pintail village near here even as efforts were on to trace him.
“Nicole is yet to be found. All police stations in Darjeeling district have been alerted so that Nicole cannot escape to Nepal,” Darjeeling Superintendent of Police Devendra Pratap Singh said.
He said CID officer Aniruddha Chatterjee and constable Arabindo Kumbhokar, who were in charge of his custody at a house used by the CID in Pintail village have been suspended.
A case has been filed against Nicole, a close aide of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung and a central committee member of the party, at the Pradhanagar police station, he said.
Bharati Tamang, Madan Tamang’s wife and now the president of the All India Gorkha League, alleged Nicole’s escape was a conspiracy by the West Bengal government.
Bharati, who took took over after the AIGL chief was killed in Darjeeling town on May 21, alleged the state government had a hand in Nicole’s escape.
She has written to Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram in this regard.
GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri has alleged that the police tortured and killed Nicole in custody.
The GJM is observing a bandh since yesterday demanding that Nicole be produced in court.
Nicole escaped on the pretext of going to the toilet.
He was arrested on August 15 from the Kazali Bustee, 47 km from Darjeeling town and had been kept at the Pradhannagar police station.
He was taken from the police station to Pintail village for interrogations when he escaped.
Nicole’s mobile phone was found near Madan Tamang’s body. (so, hacked by a cell phone ?!!)