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Dacoit in Red army

Nandigram/Calcutta, Nov. 17: The CPM’s “us” may not all have been party cadres.

The CID today arrested a hardened dacoit from a state government guesthouse in East Midnapore and said he and his gang had joined the operation to recapture Nandigram.

Sheikh Selim alias Selim Naskar of South 24-Parganas, accused in over two dozen armed robberies, had been invited by the CPM to Khejuri for his expertise, officers said.

The 33-year-old robber and four associates were arrested from the public health and engineering department’s bungalow at Geokhali, about 40km from Khejuri. They had stopped there for the night on their way back home.

A sophisticated, Italian-made 9mm pistol and six bullets were seized from Selim.

“The gang was in Khejuri for a couple of weeks. After the recapture, they spent five days in Nandigram. Yesterday, they began their journey home,” a CID officer said.

He added that the police had been watching Selim’s movements after he obtained bail from the high court four months ago.

“We had no idea that he was in Khejuri; we were tracking him in case he carried out more robberies. But his cellphone records and tower location details surprised us. They showed he was in Khejuri.”

Then came the tip-off last night about the gang’s night stopover at Geokhali. “We raided the bungalow before dawn,” the official said.

“Selim is from Mamudpur in Mograhat, South 24-Parganas. During interrogation, he could not explain satisfactorily why he was in East Midnapore,” CID inspector Partha Majumdar said.

Selim had taken along with him Mizanur Rahman Gayen, Ali Gaffar Mollah and Shajahan Gaffar from Joynagar, a CID sleuth said. “They contacted Sheikh Faiyaz of Geokhali who took them to Khejuri. We have arrested all of them.”

The local Mahishadal police, who helped the CID catch the five men, believe Selim had taken a larger gang to Khejuri. “We are grilling him for the names of the rest but he is proving a tough nut,” a CID officer said.

“After receiving the CPM invite, Selim collected men from Diamond Harbour, Joynagar and Mograhat,” an officer at Mahishadal said.

Selim had been arrested several times since 1997 but got bail each time.

The CID is conducting more raids in East Midnapore.

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