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Key players missing in Khadim’s endgame

The chargesheet has been submitted and the case committed for trial to the sessions court. But just as the stage has been set for the accused to be brought before the court in the sensational Khadim’s kidnap case, a startling fact has come to light: none of the senior police officials who had handled the case in its entirety is with the CID any longer.

Investigations by the CID, the agency handling the case, had led to the arrest of Dubai-based mafia don Aftab Ansari, the kingpin behind the abduction of shoe baron Parthapratim Roy Burman.

The last to go was IG, CID, Partha Bhattacharya, who was recently transferred as IG, traffic. Ironically, Bhattacharya was awarded the President’s Medal by the Governor on Saturday for his “tireless efforts” in cracking the case and exposing the international criminal network behind it.

Besides Bhattacharya, the other key officials in the CID handling the case were Rajeev Kumar, Virendra and Shivaji Ghosh. While Kumar and Ghosh are now with Calcutta Police, Virendra has been transferred as superintendent of police, Murshidabad.

Apart from them, there were a few other officers involved with the case, but only briefly and in the initial stages. For instance, C.V. Muralidhar, then with the Intelligence Branch, and B.N. Ramesh, commandant of the State Armed Police, were both helping with the case but were transferred to the districts while the case was still being investigated.

Now, only a couple of junior officials, like inspector Abdul Rashid, are around in the CID from the original team. But there is no senior officer who has been handling the case right from the beginning to guide them at such a crucial stage, when the accused are being brought to trial.

“A lot of factors come into play now,” said an official. “This case involves an international mafia, the ISI, terrorist outfits operating out of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Dubai as well as the financial clout of the hawala operators. So far, with the other senior officers transferred, Bhattacharya, as the leader of the team, had been guiding the inspectors. But with him gone, there is no senior official left in the CID who has a complete understanding of the case. This could also leave the junior officers exposed to a lot of pressure that could be brought to bear on them from different quarters.”

During the course of their investigations, Bhattacharya and his team had established that the kidnapping of Roy Burman was not just another case of abduction. It was the ISI-backed Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islam, Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s first bid to gain a foothold in West Bengal and spread terror in the region. Also traced were Aftab Ansari and his Calcutta-based henchman Asif Reza Khan’s close connections with Maulana Masood Azhar, who was behind the highjacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft in 1999.

The team could also establish that the ransom money being collected through a string of kidnappings was being used for buying sophisticated weapons and explosives for terrorist activities throughout the country.

Investigations by Bhattacharya, Kumar and Virendra led to the arrests of a number Lashkar and Jaish activists from all over the country and the routes being used by them to cross over to India from Pakistan and Afghanistan were established. “Let us hope that the case does not get derailed for the lack of proper supervision,” an officer said.

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