The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Theft tale saves Bhutia bag

The ball is running for Bhaichung Bhutia. Having started the season looking fit and hungry for goals, the East Bengal star was “happy” to learn on Sunday that a bag he had long given up as lost had been retrieved by the Government Railway Police (GRP), Shalimar.

“My girl-friend was coming from Mumbai with my bag two months ago. As the train reached Howrah, someone stole it from the compartment. There were some valuable papers and photographs in the bag and I am keen to get them back,” said Bhaichung.

The twist in the footballer’s lost-and-found luggage tale was pure providence. Bhaichung’s baggage — along with that of M.K. Thapar, managing director of Central Coalfields, and Air Force squadron leader P. K. Das — was retrieved by the GRP not on the trail of the lost luggage, but while following up on “a false complaint” of cable theft lodged by a railway officer. The GRP stumbled upon a lost-luggage racket and ended up arresting the officer.

Hare Krishna Ghorui, the AC coach in-charge at Shalimar, had filed a complaint with the Santragachhi Railway Protection Force (RPF) on June 26, stating that thieves had stolen a 760-ft pre-cooling cable, worth Rs 1.4 lakh, from the godown. The complaint was later forwarded to the Shalimar GRP. “We grew suspicious after Ghorui told us that the thieves had stolen the large cable through a small window of a room,” said Bamapada Das, officer-in-charge of Shalimar GRP. So, the GRP started grilling Ghorui.

A search of the yard revealed the three stolen bags in an adjacent room. “The locks of all three bags were broken. One contained a photograph of Bhaichung, some woollen garments and a bunch of cassettes,” said Das. The GRP went back to interrogate Ghorui, who insisted that it was part of the procedure for “unclaimed bags” found in AC coaches to be kept in the room. But Ghorui had not informed the station superintendent about the bags, providing officials with enough reason to suspect his involvement in the racket and arrest him. “We will conduct a thorough probe, as the involvement of other railway officials cannot be ruled out,” said William Kerketta, superintendent of railway police, Kharagpur.

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