The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dacoity, gunfire and arrests

A dacoity in the dead of the night, a cop-and-robber chase in the dark, a shootout at dawn and then three arrests ' Salt Lake witnessed it all through Monday night.

Around 2 am on Tuesday, four armed youths entered the first-floor flat of Ranjan Sarangi at BD 229, just off the popular BD Market.

'They scaled the boundary wall and broke open two locks, including the one on the grille gate at the rear of the house, leading to flight of stairs to the first floor, to enter Sarangi's flat,' said Bimal Pati, inspector-in-charge of Bidhannagar (North) police station.

The software consultant with a leading IT firm in Salt Lake's Sector V was held at gunpoint while the youths raided the house and looted jewellery, including a heavy gold necklace, wristwatches and a cell phone.

As the gang was about to leave, Sarangi's wife raised the alarm. The youths then fled, scampering down the flight of stairs and out of the door.

Before raiding the first-floor flat, the goons had bolted the doors leading to two other flats in the building, ensuring that no one could follow them.

'Even before leaving Sarangi's flat, they drew the bolt but as it was broken at one end, it soon gave way,' said Anup Das, a neighbour.

Some staff members of a catering shop who were sleeping on the pavement adjoining the house were awakened by the cries of help. 'We saw four armed youths walking down the lane leading to the main road, bags slung over their shoulders,' recounted Md Firoze, one of the witnesses.

Sarangi, meanwhile, alerted Bidhannagar (North) police station, which relayed the message to the mobile patrol vans in the area. The special anti-crime patrol force was also activated.

After about an hour, around 4 am, one of the police teams spotted the gang near BB block but failed to intercept it. Next, another patrol team spotted the four in AA block.

This was around 5 am and when the youths tried to escape, the cops opened fire. In retaliation, the goons fired several rounds.

In the exchange of fire, one of the dacoits, Md Shafique Nashkar, was hit in the leg and rounded up by the police.

After interrogating him, cops picked up the trail of Khokon Debnath and Praveen Sardar, alias Fan, and rounded them up from Basanti colony, in Ultadanga.

The arrest of three of the gang members led to the recovery of a mobile phone, five rounds of cartridges and an improvised revolver.

Police have launched a hunt for the fourth member, with the Bidhannagar police stations on high alert.

Two separate cases have been initiated at the Bidhannagar (North) police station against the gang ' one for burglary and another for opening fire on policemen.

Praveen Kumar, superintendent of police, North 24-Parganas, hailed the cop action as 'a fantastic team effort' that would send out a message to all the gangs operating in the area.

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