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March from camp to crime

Burdwan, June 4: It started with the snatching of rifles from a couple of policemen on patrol in Bankura’s Bishnupur area two years ago.

Emboldened, Mosarraf Khan, Mukuleswar Mullick, Samsul Mondol and Seher Ali Khan waded deeper into the world of crime. Finally, they took to robbing banks — they would swoop down on their target on two-wheelers and escape after a quick hold-up.

By the time the law caught up with the quartet in East Midnapore on Monday night, they had cleaned out over Rs 16 lakh from 13 banks.

Their crime odyssey started, as they recounted yesterday, when they were asked to leave the “refugee” camp the Trinamul Congress had started at the Calcutta Maidan for supporters driven out of Chhoto Angaria, the West Midnapore village that bled as Trinamul and the CPM engaged in a bloody turf battle before the Assembly election in 2001.

Unable to return to the village for fear of retribution, the men had turned to a life of crime. The police are looking for two more gang members, Samser Sheikh and Ziafat Ali.

Their booty was put to “good use”, the robbers told police today. Mukuleswar used his share of Rs 90,000 from the heist at the Burdwan cooperative bank at Pahalanpur on April 22 this year to get his sister married off last month.

Police said Mosarraf’s gang is among several that came up in the wake of the political violence prior to the 2001 poll in areas bordering Bankura, Midnapore and Burdwan. People like Kazem Ali and his son Mujibar Rehman were hounded out by the CPM from Chamkaitola in East Midnapore.

Mosarraf and gang began targeting banks from July 2001, soon after leaving the Trinamul camp. Beginning with the Gangajalghati Mallabhum Gramin Bank and the Joypur branch of the Punjab National Bank, both in Bankura, the gang carried out a string of robberies till the Pahalanpur heist.

If the quartet sometimes managed to land a hefty booty of over Rs 7 lakh, sometimes they could only take away as little as Rs 5,000. But the gang members always shared the loot equally. The four were produced in court here today and remanded in police custody for 10 days.

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