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Ansari ‘cell’ dates back to the Pujas

This is not the first time Aftab Ansari has managed to smuggle a cellphone into the high-security Presidency jail to network with his associates abroad. Investigations revealed that the Dubai-based don had first laid hands on a cellphone in early October, 2002.

Ansari is believed to have been maintaining ‘mobile’ contact with his associates ever since. “Ansari had spoken to gang-members in Dubai and Bangladesh for about a fortnight till sleuths of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) tracked the phone down,’’ said a senior officer. “CID officers got the cellphone number from a source inside the jail and began to tap the calls,’’ said an officer.

Investigations revealed that CID additional director-general S.I.S. Ahmed had convened a meeting with senior jail officials in the third week of October. Superintendent of Presidency jail S.R. Hussain attended the meeting with DIG (prisons) Anup Tripathy, where CID officers showed them computer print-outs of numbers in Delhi, Dubai, Karachi and Bangladesh that Ansari had called from his cell.

The dates of the phone calls and area of origin (inside the cell in Presidency jail) were clearly mentioned, police said. Besides the additional DG, CID, the then CID inspector-general Partha Bhattacharya, DIG (operations) C.V. Muralidhar and special superintendent of CID Manoj Malaviya were present at the meeting. Police said Ansari had called Amir Reza Khan and his contacts in Dubai and an alleged ISI agent in Bangladesh.

“We provided Hussain and Tripathy with specific information on the exact time when the cellphone reached Ansari everyday, how long he kept it and the names of those passing the phone to him,’’ said a senior officer present in that meeting. The jail officials had “promised” CID officers that they would step up vigil.

Police suspect the jail authorities “probably did not act” on the CID information, as sleuths had been tapping Ansari’s calls for the past month and a half before the cellphone swoop late last month. Inspector-general of police (prisons) Jaydeb Chakraborty said: “Steps `have been taken against warders suspected to have helped Ansari. We will beef up security in the jail and keep a special watch on Ansari.’’ S.I.S. Ahmed said on Thursday: “It is the job of the police and the jail authorities to ensure proper security inside Presidency jail.’

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