The Abdul Karim Telgi shadow is lengthening ominously over Calcutta. In a string of raids conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), four persons with suspected links with the stamp paper scam have been rounded up from different parts of the city.
A team of CBI officials seized fake non-judicial stamp papers to the tune of Rs 25 lakh from the arrested persons, including the kingpin. Fake small savings certificates and bank drafts were also recovered during the raids.
Acting on a tip-off, sleuths from the CBI’s economic offence wing in Salt Lake laid a trap for a certain Vimal Agarwal in the BBD Bag area on Saturday night.
“Around 8 pm, Agarwal was sighted near the BBD Bag bus-stand. We arrested him on the spot,” said a CBI official.
“He was taken to his central Calcutta rented house, from where fake non-judicial stamp papers with a combined face value of Rs 6 lakh were recovered. We then brought him to our Salt Lake office for interrogation,” the official added.
During interrogation, Agarwal broke down and disclosed the names of two others — Deepak Chowdhury and Pappu Shaw — from whom he would collect the consignment of fake stamp-papers.
A team of CBI sleuths carried out extensive raids on the residences of Chowdhury and Shaw in the Chitpur area and rounded them up.
The sleuths seized fake stamp papers to the tune of Rs 5 lakh from Shaw’s possession.
“We interrogated the arrested trio throughout the night. Early on Sunday, they revealed the name of the kingpin,” said one of the sleuths. “They told us that Montu Sharma used to supply the stamp papers, fake savings certificates and bank drafts,” he added.
The CBI team then laid a trap in the Baranagar area, where Sharma lives, around 9 am. “The moment he stepped out of his house, we arrested him. At the time of arrest, he was carrying fake stamp papers with a face value of Rs 4 lakh. Later, a massive search was carried out and fake stamp papers with a face value of Rs 10 lakh were found,” said a sleuth.
The CBI team also found fake bonds of Kisan Vikas Patra to the tune of Rs 7 lakh, fake court-fee stamps worth Rs 50,000 and 103 bank-draft sheets, on which the names of nationalised banks — Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda and United Bank of India — were inscribed.
All those arrested have been booked under several charges, including criminal conspiracy and selling of fake government stamps.
They were produced in Bankshal Court on Sunday, where the magistrate remanded Sharma to CBI’s custody for a day. The others were remanded in jail custody till Monday. All the accused will be produced before the magistrate on Monday.
According to CBI sources, Shaw is the “main agent” in the scam’s Calcutta operations. “He used to collect fake papers from Bihar. We are contacting our counterparts in Patna to give us some feedback,” said a sleuth.
Shaw was a close associate of Md Isha, a resident of Rajarhat, who was arrested in 2002. Isha was bailed out as the CBI failed to submit a chargesheet against him within the stipulated time. Since then, he is absconding.
“Isha had strong links with Telgi. So we have reason enough to believe that after Isha’s disappearance, Shaw developed ties with Telgi,” explained a CBI official.