A constable of Lake police station was arrested in the Baranagar area on Tuesday morning on the charge of being involved in a gold smuggling racket. Two others, said to be the constable’s associates, were also arrested. Police seized Rs 1,13,000 from the constable.
Residents of the area caught the three men red-handed while they were sharing the cash behind a temple. Local people took the three to a nearby CPM party office. Later, policemen from Baranagar police station arrested the three — Rampada Mandal, the constable, and his two associates Mustaquin Sheikh and M. Rahman.
Police also found a diary in their possession. “We found some telephone numbers and addresses of other policemen, who are believed to be involved in the racket. The diary has also revealed the names of businessmen who, we suspect, purchased gold from the arrested persons,” said an officer of Baranagar police station.
According to Harisena Verma, superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas, all the arrested men were from Murshidabad district. Residents of Gopal Lal Thakur Road noticed the three persons moving around suspiciously. A group of local youths shadowed them.
Mandal and the two others entered a blind lane near a local temple. Local people pounced on them right at the moment when Sheikh and Rahman were handing over a packet to Mandal. “We opened the packet and found the money. The three were then taken to the local party office,” said a local resident.
A team of five policemen brought them to Baranagar police station. “Apparently, the three men are members of a gold smuggling racket which operates from Murshidabad to Calcutta and its neighbouring areas. The money that we recovered was Mandal’s share,” said an official.
Shivaji Ghosh, deputy commissioner of police, headquarters, said he had not received any official message so far in this regard. “Stern action will be taken against the constable only after getting the report from Lake police station,” said Ghosh.
An officer of Lake police station said the constable was not on duty when the incident happened. “We have not received any report from Baranagar police station so far,” he added.
Investigations revealed that the arrested men used to work as couriers. “They would bring the gold from Murshidabad to Calcutta and Howrah. Many members of the racket are active in and around the city,” said an officer, adding: “The racket has a strong link with Bangladeshi smugglers and Mandal’s two associates came to the city with a major consignment.”
According to sources, the gold is smuggled through the Indo-Bangla frontier pockets of Murshidabad district. “We have informed the Murshidabad police to find out whether they have any case pending against the three or not,” said Verma.
Officers from Lalbazar police headquarters asked the Baranagar thana to inform them as soon as possible if they have found any other names of Calcutta police involved in the racket.