CRIME WATCH: Joint raid nets mobile gang – in for quick money and now to understand that crime just does not pay ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Raiganj, Nov. 28: A nine-member gang which used to rob computer and cellphone shops in metros was arrested in a joint operation by Raiganj police and the Lalbazar’s detective department yesterday.
North Dinajpur superintendent of police Milon Das said the gang members are residents of Sitamarhi and Motihari districts of Bihar.
“For the past two years, the gang has been stealing cellphones and computers from shops in Calcutta, Delhi and Mumbai. We have seized eight handsets and the tools the robbers used to break locks and gates,” said Das.
According to the district police chief, the detective department of Calcutta police had informed him about a week ago that some members of the gang were in Raiganj and they could strike shops in town.
Sources said the police had traced the gangsters to Raiganj after tracking the mobile phone of one of them. All police stations in the district were alerted and a hunt was launched to track down the gang members.
“We started keeping a watch on hotels in Raiganj. For the past one week or so, a lot of weddings have been taking place and many people are on the streets till late at night. About four days ago, a police patrol had spotted five youths roaming in town at midnight. When we asked the youths why they were out at night, they replied that they had gone to Bidhannagar to attend a wedding and were returning to a hotel in Mohanbati,” said an investigating officer.
The police realised that the youths were lying because the place they had said they were returning to was in the direction where they were coming from.
“We started keeping tabs on them. The next day, the group split into two and checked in two hotels near the railway station. Inquiries revealed that they had told the hotel staff that they had come to attend a wedding. We informed the Lalbazar police. The youths were arrested,” he said.
While six persons were picked up from the hotels, three were picked up from the railway station.
The youths confessed to the police that they had stolen cellphones and computers from shops in Delhi, Mumbai and also at Muchipara, Shyampukur and Gariahat in Calcutta.
The police said the gang was also planning to rob the stores in Raiganj.
“The group takes advantage of the wedding season to roam around at night to check out stores and to find whether there are night guards in an area. After stealing the items, the robbers hand them over to link men who in turn sell them in Nepal and Bangladesh. We have come to know about the local link man and are looking for him,” said an officer.
The nine were produced before a chief judicial magistrate yesterday evening and handed over to the Calcutta police on transit bail.
60-wife trafficker arrested – Youth sold girls to brothels – should be drawn, quartered and hanged, barbaric enough in a civilized world for all the lives and families destroyed and tortured, or just 60 life sentences to run consecutively ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Nov. 25: A 27-year-old with multiple identities who managed to marry almost one girl a month for five years and sell them to brothels in Pune and Mumbai has been arrested by Darjeeling police.
The arrest of Bikky Biswakarma alias Bishal Chhetri alias Prakash Rai from his Kalchini residence in Jalpaiguri district yesterday has helped police trace at least nine girls so far. The police believe they will be able to find the whereabouts of another “seven to eight” girls.
Social workers think the arrest could help track down around 60 victims.
Darjeeling police chief D.P. Singh said: “The modus operandi was simple. He would propose young girls especially from tea gardens and remote areas, marry them and then sell them off to brothels in Pune and Mumbai. Since many of the victims were poor and uneducated, hardly anybody filed complaints.”
The police chief said each girl would be sold for anything between Rs 70,000 and Rs 1 lakh. “Biswakarma was a smart operator. He used to change his locations frequently. We have found that he had bases in Bidhannagar and Bagdogra (in Siliguri subdivision), Kurseong and Darjeeling,” said Singh.
The police started working on Biswakarma’s trail after complaints from Mirik and Panighata in Kurseong subdivision and, more recently, from a family at Singtom tea garden in Darjeeling.
The Darjeeling girl has been rescued from Pune. Biswakarma used to pose either as a contractor or an army man. “In most cases, he pretended to be an army man who had come home on holiday and wanted to get married before returning to his post. We believe he was the kingpin of the racket and had women accomplices who introduced themselves as his relatives to the girls’ families,” said Prabhat Pathak, the coordinator of Siliguri-based Kanchenjungha Uddhar Kendra, an NGO which works for the rescue of trafficked women.
Pathak cited an instance when a victim from Sonada in Kurseong was lured into marriage within seven days of her acquaintance with Biswakarma.
Kanchenjunga Kendra had been trying to track him down for sometime. “I even managed to speak to him once on his cellphone. He sounded extremely polite and was confident and convincing,” said Pathak.
Biswakarma mostly used the SIM cards of the victims to trap his next prey. “This year alone we rescued around six-seven girls from Pune. They were all directly sold by the kingpin. He used to take the girls either to Calcutta or Patna before boarding the train,” said Pathak. “On the way to Pune, he used to tell the girls that he has a relative in Pune and used to make the brothel owners speak to the victims to convince them that there was no foul play.” On reaching the destination, Biswakarma would disappear.
Both the police and social workers believe that the gang used to randomly call up cellphone numbers. He would strike up a conversation and pick on his potential victim, said Pathak.
Biswakarma’s arrest and the subsequent findings have busted the myth that trafficking usually takes place in closed tea gardens of the Dooars. “Our centre has the names of 60 missing girls, of whom 30 per cent are from the hills,” said Pathak.
A police officer said it was difficult to crack the case as the complaints were far between and the families did not realise that the girls had been trafficked. “They had seen the groom and approved the marriage. They did not find anything fishy.”
Singh said the police have got the names of a few people who might be Biswakarma’s accomplices.
Biswakarma was today produced in the court of the subdivisional judicial magistrate in Kurseong which approved an identification parade requested by the police. The families of the victims in Kurseong will have to identify the accused during the parade. “After this, we will seek a remand,” said Singh.
Woman held for meal scam – stealing from the poor and helpless, Bengal’s morality personified ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Islampur, Nov. 25: A para-teacher was arrested yesterday for allegedly siphoning off Rs 22 lakh meant for mid-day meal scheme in collusion with her husband, a data entry operator at Karandighi block office, and a joint block development officer.
Gouri Mahato, the para teacher at Girls’ High School in Karandighi, is the first person to be arrested in the Rs 1.2 crore scam.
Mahato was arrested from her home in Karandighi and was produced in the court of additional chief judicial magistrate in Islampur this morning. She was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
On October 5, the Islampur subdivisional administration filed an FIR against the joint BDO, Durjoy Chakrabarty, and data entry operator Tapan Mondal after it was found that money was being paid to self-help groups which did not cook meals for schoolchildren.
Both Chakrabarty and Mondal are absconding. Although the police claimed a tight vigil had been kept to track down Chakrabarty, he managed to come to his house in Raiganj on October 14 and take his wife away.
According to the police, the charge against Mahato is that she had withdrawn most of the money meant for the mid-day meals from a bank. So far, defalcation of about Rs 65 lakh has been exposed.
The district enforcement branch, which took over the case from police, discovered Mahato’s involvement in the scam.
“Mahato had produced fake documents of self-help groups to withdraw Rs 22 lakh from a bank. We arrested her only after being convinced of her involvement in the theft of public money,” said North Dinajpur superintendent of police Milan Kanti Das.
The investigators are also trying to find out if the rest of Rs 1.2 crore sanctioned by the joint BDO to pay other SHGs was judiciously utilised or not.