Trinamul councillor Mohammad Iqbal remains elusive more than a week after the chief minister assigned the probe to the CID and removed R.K. Pachnanda from the police commissioner’s post ostensibly for his failure to catch all accused in the cop murder case.
Sources said the CID’s only breakthrough since it took charge of the inquiry on February 14 had been the recovery of a gun suspected to have been used to kill sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury.
“In every other aspect, the probe stands exactly where Calcutta police had left it. All the raids the CID has conducted in search of Iqbal, alias Munna, have been futile,” said a source familiar with the probe.
The sleuths apparently did not bother to alert the airport despite being tipped off that Iqbal could flee the city. “Chances are Munna has fled to Uttar Pradesh by road or rail, but he might as well have flown abroad,” said an officer not involved with the probe.
The closest the CID came to Munna was during a raid on the house of a former Congress MLA, who is now a Trinamul block president in the port area. Munna, police sources said, had sneaked out of the three-storey building in Panchpara Lane shortly before the CID team turned up.
Even sections in the police are wondering how the fugitive, close to minister Firhad Hakim, came to know about the raid.
According to CID sources, Munna was last seen by a police informer when he, along with another man in a burqa, had sneaked out of Rajabagan in the port area and jumped into a car that dropped him at a leader’s south Calcutta home. “The CID then was raiding the Trinamul block president’s house and did not follow up on the lead,” said a source familiar with the probe.
A section of insiders attributed the CID’s “failure” to track down Munna to “political compulsions”.
“It is no secret that R.K. Pachnanda lost his job as police commissioner because of standing up to top Trinamul leaders and getting party functionaries arrested for the murder. Who will risk the ire of the ruling party again? No wonder Iqbal is still free,” said a senior officer at Lalbazar.
Sources in the city police, referring to the chief minister’s “strong action” against Pachnanda within 48 hours of the murder, wondered how much more leeway the CID would be granted. “A week has passed since the CID took over the probe. What now? Will the CID chief be sacked?” asked a city police officer.