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Calcutta haven for Bangla fugitives

Calcutta, Nov. 19: A mini “Bangladeshi underworld” is emerging on the city’s crime canvas.

Within 48 hours of the arrest of nine Bangladeshis — two of them suspected ISI agents and “subversive elements” — from the New Market area, police picked up four more from the same region today. One of them, Sayyed Hussain, is an ISI operative, the police claimed.

The police said Sayyed’s name figures on the list of 23 underworld dons of Bangladesh. Dhaka had sent the list to the Union home ministry, which has forwarded it to the Bengal government.

The criminals have over 120 cases of murder, rape and extortion against them. Most of them are believed to have taken “shelter” in the city, the police said.

While Sayyed has been booked under the Arms Act and a case registered at the New Market police station, the other three have been let off for the moment. Confirming the arrest, Zulfiquar Hasan, deputy commissioner, central, said: “Sayyed has been in the city for several months and his sole purpose was to spread terror in the city.”

Sayyed was picked up in a joint drive. Acting on information, Hasan and Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner, detective department, cordoned off certain areas around New Market and Park Street and then selectively began raiding places. Sayyed was hiding in one such place around New Market.

The police said Sayyed is the rival of Liaquat Hussain Liaquat, who was arrested on Sunday. “Both the dons had taken shelter in the city and both got arrested,” an official said. “The frightening aspect of the entire thing is that there are a whole lot of other people — from the list of 23 dons — sheltered here, but we don’t know precisely where.”

He said Bangladesh authorities had informed Delhi that the criminals had crossed the border. “Calcutta gives them safe cover as Bangladeshis are frequent visitors, speak the same language and can get lost in the anonymity of the city,” the official said.

Liaquat and Arman, one of those arrested on Sunday, have corroborated what the Bangladesh government has been fearing, an official who has been interrogating the two ISI operatives said. “They have also provided a lot of information on the hideouts of the others and we are in the process of tracking them,” he said.

Liaquat has told the police how he had been holed up in the city for the last two months, occasionally returning to his base in Dhaka. The don, along with two others, had rented an apartment in Garia Gardens.

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