The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Call to youth rings aloud, sleuths sit up
- Friday evening dial-up prompts interrogation of friends

Calcutta, Feb. 5: A call from Roma Jhawar's cellphone to one of her friends after her abduction has opened a new channel of investigation for the CID, which is handling the case, leading them to question a number of her friends for several hours today.

While tracking the calls from Roma's phone, police found that one had been placed to one of her friends in Jorasanko. Three ransom calls had been made by the abductors from the same phone to the Jhawar residence.

'We don't know why the call was made or whether Roma spoke to her friend at all,' an investigating officer said. 'All we know is that a call went through to this number from her phone. It is possible that she was scared and just wanted some solace from a close friend.'

Later, after interrogating Roma, police officers said she has told them that one of her kidnappers had placed the call, but did not give details of the conversation.

The call to Jorasanko had been made around 6 pm yesterday, found the police who were in constant touch with the mobile service provider. They traced the number and decided to question the person to whom the call had been made.

They brought him over to Jorasanko police station. He was let off soon, but picked up again, along with his uncle, later at night and brought to the CID headquarters in Bhawani Bhavan. They were detained and questioned intermittently.

On the basis of what they said, three other friends of Roma, some of them from the computer institute that she used to attend, were also brought in and detained for questioning.

'We are exploring the matter thoroughly,' an official said. 'We have to investigate all angles as this does not appear to be an open-and-shut abduction case.' Chayan Mukherjee, inspector-general, law and order, had described the abduction as an open-and-shut case of kidnapping for ransom in his briefing.

The police are questioning Roma's friends about their association with her, whether they met outside the institute and, if so, where they went.

'The four youths have been detained for further interrogation. We have got some specific leads and officers are working on it,' said R.K. Mohanty, additional director-general of police, CID. He refused to give their names.

The sleuths also brought Roma's personal computer to Bhawani Bhavan to check her e-mail account. 'We are making a list of her friends with whom she had regular contact. Her mails will be recovered from the back-up file,' said an official.

Roma was interrogated for the most part of the day. In the evening, CID's deputy inspector-general of police (operations) Rajiv Kumar and deputy commissioner of police, detective department, Peeyush Pandey left with Roma and visited the spots she mentioned in her statement.

The investigators said they now believe seven people were involved in the conspiracy ' five Hindi-speaking persons who had carried out the operation and two others who spoke in Bengali.

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