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Kidney stealer tag on cops helps thief slip

Raiganj, Dec. 2: A youth who had allegedly decamped with Rs 25 lakh from the office of an construction company in Thane managed to slip away from a team of policemen in mufti today by inciting a crowd that was made to believe that he was being kidnapped by human organ traffickers.

An officer and a constable of the Maharashtra police and a cop from the local police camp accompanying them were injured as the crowd went after them with stones. The visiting policemen had to be admitted to the Raiganj district hospital.

According to North Dinajpur superintendent of police Milon Das, sub-inspector A.S. Patil and constable Vilas Patel had arrived here from Thane yesterday evening.

“They said they were looking for a youth, aged about 25 years, in connection with a break-in that took place in the Kalyan area of Thane in October. They also said the accused was a resident of Vatol, which is about 20km from here, and his name was Sagar. We had sent them to the Vatol police camp where they spent the night,” Das said.

This morning, the visiting team, along with the in-charge of the Vatol camp — all of them in plainclothes — tried to track down Sagar but drew a blank.

“Sagar has records of minor thefts and the local police always kept tabs on him. They knew that he had been away working in Mumbai. They were also aware that he had returned from there recently,” Das said.

Back at the hospital, injured constable Vilas Patel said Vatol police camp in-charge W.B. Lama had accompanied them in their search for Sagar. All three policemen were getting their mobile phones charged at a shop in a marketplace in Tejpur, about 2km from Vatol, when Lama spotted Sagar. It was 2pm and the policemen had almost given up hope.

“As soon as we tried to take the youth to the police camp, he started shouting that we were kidnapping him for his kidneys and within moments a large crowd surrounded us. When Lama tried to convince the mob that we were policemen and the youth was a wanted felon, they did not listen to us and started pelting us with stones. They managed to snatch Sagar from us and he vanished. I and my sub-inspector were badly injured on the arms and chest,” said Patel, before being wheeled into the X-ray room in the evening.

He said the three of them somehow managed to escape from the 400-strong crowd that thinned once Sagar fled.

“I nearly drew my service revolver, such was the intensity of the attack,” a shaken Patel said. Sub-inspector A.S. Patil, who spoke little, described Sagar as just over five feet in height, slim, dark complexioned and with sharp features. The Maharashtra policemen had come armed with only Sagar’s description and name. “They didn’t have a photograph,” an officer from Raiganj said.

The district police chief said the inspector-in-charge of Raiganj police station, Sujit Ghosh, has been sent to the area with a large force. “We will not spare the attackers.” Later in the evening, Ghosh said all able-bodied men in Tejpur had fled from the area.

“Sagar seems to be a hardened criminal with a presence of mind. He could incite a mob by shouting that he was being kidnapped for kidneys. The Vatol area has a reputation of being a hotbed of organ trafficking and we had arrested Rezzak, one of the kingpins involved in the racket, from there last year,” Ghosh said.

When The Telegraph contacted the Bazarpeth police station in Kalyan, Thane, over the phone, officers there said they were yet to hear from the team that went to Raiganj. Inspector D.K. Sonar, who came to the line, said Sagar was the main accused in a break-in that took place in an office of a construction company in an apartment building on the night of October 27. “He worked as a night watchman. He had forced open strong steel almirahs in the company’s office and decamped with cash worth Rs 25.4 lakh. We are concerned about our men who were attacked and we are getting in touch with the Raiganj police,” Sonar said. He said inquiries with Sagar’s employers had revealed that he was from Vatol in North Dinajpur.

A doctor attending to the two policemen said A.S. Patil had fractured his arm while Vilas Patel was injured on the chest.

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