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At home, Upen offers to be witness

Calcutta, May 23: Officers of the Narcotics Control Bureau today called on Upen Biswas as the former CBI officer did not go to their office on Shakespeare Sarani.

The sleuths stayed for over five hours at Biswas’ CG-22 Salt Lake home and left with the former CBI additional director’s assurance to be “the principal witness” in the drug-haul case.

Senior bureau officials refused to make a fuss over Biswas not going down to their office, citing “his seniority and status” and saying it was not a “formal interrogation”.

The bureau team took along Mizoram Emporium employee Mathani, who had introduced Sang Niang Thanga, an alleged inner-circle member of the Ah Hua international drug cartel, to Biswas for renting the ground floor.

Sang had escaped the bureau when it raided the ground floor of Biswas’s house last week. Five of his accomplices, however, were arrested. Equipment and raw materials to make amphetamine-type stimulant tablets worth crores were seized.

A bureau official said their team “dropped over at the former scam-buster’s residence to clarify certain questions which had cropped up during the course of investigations in the last two days”.

An unhappy bureau, worried over the “report” its “headquarters in Delhi has sought” for its failure to arrest Sang, was relieved when Biswas said he would be able to identify the drug cartel member.

“I can stand in the witness box and testify to several seizures and other details of the racket,” Biswas reportedly told the officers.

A senior bureau officer said: “It (letting slip Sang) was a costly lapse on our part.”

NCB assistant director .C. Patra today said Sang could be “somewhere in the Northeast or might have fled to Myanmar”. He conceded the bureau was slipshod in its operation as it did not have a photograph of Sang during the May 17 raid.

Investigations have revealed that Sang left the house an hour before the raid to buy grocery from a local shop. He was on his way back when he spotted the bureau’s car outside the house.

“A few of our men noticed him then, but were too busy with the raid to pay any attention to anybody walking along the street,” a bureau official said.

The bureau realised its mistake only after seeing Sang’s photo on a driving licence found in a bag in his bedroom.

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