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Suspect surveyed kidnap spot

Mohammad Nur Sheikh — the latest suspect to be arrested by the Mumbai Police in connection with the abduction of Khadim’s vice-chairman Parthapratim Roy Burman — played the role of a surveyor in the incident and visited the city twice. Mumbai Police officials came to this conclusion after interrogating Sheikh. They found that Sheikh was paid Rs 2 lakh for his first “assignment” by Aftab Ansari, the mastermind behind the abduction.

Officials of the Mumbai Police crime branch rounded up Sheikh, a resident of Maligao, on Friday. They were looking for Sheikh in connection with an explosion in Mulund, Maharashtra, on March 13, 2003, that killed 13 people. But in course of the investigation, they came to know that Sheikh was a member of the Aftab Ansari gang and was involved in Roy Burman’s abduction on July 25, 2001.

An additional commissioner of Mumbai Police said Sheikh had been paid to survey the Tiljala area and select the point from where Roy Burman could be abducted. “Besides, he also worked as a mediator between Ansari and his gang members in the city,” said the official.

Officials of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) — the agency which probed the abduction—were surprised on Friday afternoon at the news of Sheikh’s arrest as he was not on the list of their suspects.

CID inspector-general of police R.K. Johri said he would send a team to Mumbai soon. “I have spoken to the joint commissioner of police (crime branch) of Mumbai Police, Satyapal Singh. I have received some information about Sheikh’s involvement in the abduction,” he said. Johri said he would hold a meeting on Monday with officials who investigated the case. “We have not decided when our officers will leave for Mumbai,” he added.

Police said Sheikh visited Calcutta for the first time two months before the incident. He stayed for a few days and “gave a trial run” in Tiljala with Ansari’s city-based operatives. “He suggested the spot on Tiljala First Lane, where Roy Burman was intercepted. Besides, Ansari used to communicate with his men in Calcutta through Sheikh. He visited the city the second and last time to collect the money,” said a Mumbai Police official.

According to the Mumbai Police, Sheikh came in contact with a close aide of Ansari in Mumbai and received an offer of a “huge reward for a simple job”. Sheikh was unemployed then.

The CID has arrested 35 persons in connection with the abduction. “We submitted chargesheets against 26 people while three of them have turned approver. Chargesheets could not be filed against six others due to lack of evidence,” said a CID official. At least 16 suspects are still absconding and the CID thinks that 11 of them have crossed over to Bangladesh. “We have a list of the other five but Sheikh’s name is not among them. It is possible that he uses pseudonyms,” the official said.

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