The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Guns, roses in hostage drama

A tale of guns and roses unravelled at Barasat on Monday, with the police cracking an abduction case and blowing the lid off a flesh-trade racket.

A 28-year-old woman and four young men were arrested on charges of abducting a trader and an associate after police rescued Lalan Chowdhury and Paresh Mistry from a single-storeyed house in Barasat early on Monday. Four sophisticated firearms and 16 rounds of ammunition were recovered.

The woman, identified as Shahdad Begum, after being picked up later in the day from a hideout in Bankra, of Howrah district, is said to have lured the victims to a rendezvous at Park Circus on Sunday morning, where she was waiting with a bunch of roses. Chowdhury and Mistry were kidnapped from there by the four youths.

“Seku Sheikh, Shamim Ahmed, Abdur Rashid and Srikanta Mandal supply girls to various red-light areas. They had sold Shahdad Begum for Rs 1.5 lakh a year ago,” said an officer of Barasat police station. Rahul Srivastav, additional superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas, said the woman “had a direct hand” in the abduction. “She struck up a rapport with the garment trader and lured him into a trap.”

On Saturday evening, the woman rang up Chowdhury and asked him to meet her the next morning, said Srivastav. “Chowdhury and his friend came to Alexander Road, where she was waiting with some roses. As the two approached her, the four youths surrounded them and dragged them into Mandal’s taxi at gunpoint.”

The four youths, hailing from Rishra and Baruipur, then drove to Narayanpur, in Barasat. They telephoned Chowdhury’s wife and demanded a ransom of Rs 1 lakh, which they later scaled down to Rs 50,000.

“Some residents of Narayanpur alerted us after they saw seven men go into the house on Sunday and not emerge throughout the day. As all windows remained shut, neighbours grew suspicious and sent word to Barasat thana,” stated Srivastav.

The police raided the house, rescued the kidnapped men and nabbed the culprits. Only Shahjahan, whose house was used as the hideout, managed to flee.

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