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Burglars mock Salt Lake cops

Calcutta, Jan. 4: Burglars struck at a retired IAS officer’s flat just two floors above the home of the state intelligence chief, the daylight robbery underlining Salt Lake’s vulnerability to crime.

Neither Kanta Prasad Sinha, 64, nor wife Nandita were in their third-floor apartment at Salt Lake’s KB block when the burglars broke in this afternoon and left with some Rs 2.7 lakh in cash and jewellery, the police complaint says.

Banibrata Basu, additional director-general of police (intelligence branch), lives on the first floor of the four-storey building.

“I was at my Salt Lake office and my wife was out, too, when the incident happened,” said Sinha, who had retired four years ago as director of the social welfare department and is now on extension as controller of examinations for the West Bengal University of Health Sciences.

“She left around 12.30pm and returned at 1.45pm to find that someone had broken the padlock on the main door.”

A cupboard in one of the three bedrooms had been thrown open. Some jewellery, silver utensils and foreign currency were missing.

“The jewellery included some of my wife’s old ornaments, a few new ones we had bought for our daughter, and one of my gold rings,” Sinha said.

“We had kept the foreign currency mostly as a souvenir apart from a few dollars my daughter had brought back from her recent US trip.”

Cash and a new laptop lay untouched in the other rooms, suggesting the burglars were in a hurry to get out. The couple live by themselves — their only daughter is a research scholar at IIT Delhi.

KB block, which falls in the area of Bidhannagar (South) police station, has only a few standalone homes amid clusters of government quarters, with hardly any marketplace nearby.

“Its location makes KB block a vulnerable target. It’s just 1km from Nicco Park, to which it is connected by a bridge that offers a ready escape,” a police officer said. The police suspect the thieves knew the flat would be vacant at the time.

“Even the caretaker, who lives downstairs, was not here,” said Gour Chatterjee, a bank manager who lives on the same floor as Basu.

Police sources said the caretaker and the Sinhas’ two domestic workers would be questioned. “But we are not ruling out the involvement of a professional burglar,” an officer said. No one had been arrested or detained till late this evening.