Calcutta police have allegedly known for months that Kadir Khan, the fugitive main accused in the Park Street rape case, is staying with an aunt in Chittagong and keeping in touch with his family in the city.
Sources in the city police headquarters told Metro that Kadir’s present hideout was confirmed at least five months ago but little had been done since to capture and bring him back to Calcutta for trial.
“There is no extradition treaty between Bangladesh and India. So, to get back Kadir what we need is political will rather than a police initiative,” said a senior officer in Lalbazar, mirroring the perception that the state government remains aloof from a case that the chief minister had first dismissed as a “sajano ghatona (fabricated incident)”.
The lack of an extradition treaty apparently does not preclude a request to Bangladesh police to help arrest Kadir, who has been on the run since allegedly raping a 37-year-old woman in a moving car hours after meeting her in a Park Street nightclub on February 5, 2012. “We are waiting for an opportune moment to approach Bangladesh police to help us get Kadir,” the officer said.
The other three accused, including Kadir’s sibling Nasir, are in judicial custody.
Metro had highlighted on July 17 last year how information leaks might have helped Kadir repeatedly dodge police search teams across six locations from Mumbai to Mirik.
As in the previous instances, the investigation team worked hard to confirm Kadir’s whereabouts through human and electronic surveillance, only to stumble at the last step.
A source said Kadir made no mistake that would give him away in the first stage of his life as a fugitive. “No ATM cards, no cell phone calls, no emails. He virtually vanished.”
That left investigators with little option but to track Kadir’s family members and friends. They were all “graphed” and the “most talkative one” among them — a woman — identified as the key link.
“It was during one of her telephonic conversations that she accidentally gave away his present location,” the source said.
The police have also found out that friends and family members refer to Kadir as “Nepali” over the phone.
Kadir is known to use voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology to keep in touch with his family, who allegedly have a number that is solely used to receive his calls.
Skype is based on VoIP technology. Call centres that can contact you but can’t be reached when you dial their numbers also use VoIP.
Kadir has friends who run a call centre, a source said.
Not only is Kadir in touch with his family, at least one woman member of the Khan clan visited him in Bangladesh by sneaking into Nepal from their ancestral home in Madhubani district of Bihar, a 10-minute walk from the international border, the source added.
But of what use is such information when the police cannot act on it?
“This is not just another case. It’s a very sensitive one with several dimensions,” a senior officer said, refusing to elaborate.
The rule book states that any request to hand over an accused hiding in a country with which India has an extradition treaty needs to be made through the ministry of external affairs. In the absence of a treaty, the onus is on the investigating agency to unofficially establish contact with the police of that country, intelligence sources said.
“A senior officer communicates with his counterpart there, giving details of the target and his location. Then the target is picked up by the local forces and pushed back through the border, where our police would be waiting,” a source said.