The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heist sleuths arrest rail union leader

Islampur, April 16: CBI sleuths probing the theft of Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel medal and other memorabilia have arrested an influential railway union leader from Katihar in Bihar.

Police said Madan Mohan Singh was picked up by a CBI team, accompanied by the district police, from his residence in Railway Colony I, early yesterday morning. Though none of the items stolen from Santiniketan’s Rabindra Bhavan was found, two modern firearms and a large quantity of ammunition were seized.

The raid was conducted following an e-mail the bureau received a few days after it began investigation. The mail said the medal and other items stolen earlier this month were in Katihar and that a railway union leader had possible links.

A CBI spokesperson today said the bureau would also inquire into whether vested interests had sent the mail.

Amit Jain, the police superintendent of Kishenganj district, under which Katihar falls, said the CBI team was led by officer Debashis Ghosh. He was accompanied by officer-in-charge of Katihar sadar police station Ashok Kumar Singh, who led a large contingent of policemen.

“I believe the CBI officers who grilled Singh yesterday have found some vital leads to the Nobel theft. They also collected his fingerprints to see whether they matched the one’s found at the scene of the crime,” Jain said. The leads, he said, cannot be revealed at this stage.

Though Jain said the raid was in connection with the medal theft, CBI sources in Santiniketan and Calcutta did not comment. A senior CBI officer said there was “nothing to comment on the arrest” at this point of time. He, however, confirmed that the CBI had arrested Singh with help from Bihar police.

Singh was produced before the chief judicial magistrate in Katihar yesterday and he was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. The police said the CBI did not want his custody as the interrogation had gone off “satisfactorily”. Singh has also been charged with possessing illegal arms.

Katihar shares border with Nepal. Bangladesh, too, can be accessed through adjoining North Dinajpur. Sources in the Border Security Force said that vigil on the border had been stepped up immediately after the theft.

In Santiniketan today, the police and the CBI questioned Visva-Bharati garden superintendent Abhoy Mahapatra, arrested in connection with the breaking of the lock at the Uddyan Vibhag entrance.

“We are using video cameras to record the interrogation of Mahapatra and Gopal Bagdi, the arrested gardener,” a senior police officer said.

Mahapatra was produced before the subdivisional judicial magistrate who rejected his bail plea and sent him to police custody for eight days.

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