The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Drug arrest in tech hub

Calcutta, Feb. 12: The head of a company in Bengal’s infotech hub has been arrested on the charge of dealing with a US firm linked to a drug cartel but his lawyer said the businessman had only developed a pharmaceutical software for the foreign client.

The arrest of Sanjay Kedia, an IIT alumnus who did his post-graduation in the US, and the raid on Xponse, a software development firm and BPO, are the first such instances in Salt Lake’s Sector V, where many of Bengal’s showpiece infotech investors have set up shop.

Officers from the Narcotics Control Bureau raided Kedia’s office on the seventh and eighth floors of Kariwala Towers on February 1 and took away several documents and software.

After scanning the seized items, the sleuths arrested him late on Sunday night from his home in Salt Lake’s EE block. The raid yielded Rs 24 lakh in cash and $300.

Kedia was produced in a city court today and was remanded in judicial custody for a fortnight.

“Officials of the Drug Enforcement Administration (US) tipped us off,” an officer said. NCB officials refused to make any comment on record.

Kedia has been charged under sections 24, 29 and 30 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

Section 24 deals with those who trade in or deal with banned substances outside the country without proper licence. Section 29 covers abetment and conspiracy, while section 30 deals with those who prepare such substances for commercial purpose without licence.

However, Kedia’s lawyer C.K. Jain said his client has “in essence” been charged with providing software to a company that ran its business through a website that dealt with pharmaceuticals.

“The company had asked my client to develop a software for the website that deals with medicines and drugs and also look after its maintenance. Accordingly, he had prepared the software.

“For every transaction carried out through the website, my client received a part of the service charge. The US agency now alleges that he has been receiving a part of the money that a drug cartel made by selling drugs over the website.”

A woman who identified herself as Kedia’s sister told The Telegraph at his Salt Lake house that the businessman was arrested last night. “We are unable to give any further information as we are in the dark. Relatives have come in to offer prayers as we believe he is innocent,” she said.

At Xponse, some employees stood outside, screening visitors. “We are not aware of what went wrong and are not in a position to say anything. He has several other offices in the city,” an employee said.

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