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Kingpin runs kidnap racket from prison

An undertrial prisoner is under the lens for masterminding the abduction of at least two tech-firm owners with sleuths tracing the ransom calls to a phone he had allegedly smuggled into the high-security Alipore jail.

Sanjit Purkayet, 20, was put behind bars two months ago after cops caught him peddling ganja.

He was more than a petty drug peddler, probably the kingpin of an abduction racket, an officer said on Monday.

“While tracking the ransom calls made to Praveen Chhajer’s father on his cell phone, we found that these were routed through a tower that covered the Alipore correctional home. We zeroed in on Sanjit following specific information from inside the jail,” the officer added.

The cell phone and the SIM card that he had been allegedly using were not recovered, though.

Sanjit had allegedly used the phone’s Internet browser to search phone numbers of techies running graphic designing businesses. He would then contact the targets over the phone posing as a client.

Praveen, who runs an IT firm on Tollygunge Circular Road, was abducted on February 5 when he went to Joynagar in South 24-Parganas to meet a “client” who contacted him over the phone.

“Sanjit called Parveen posing as the owner of a machinery unit and gave him a lucrative business proposal. He asked him to come over to his office at Joynagar to finalise the deal. When Praveen reached there, Sanjit called him again and said he had to leave urgently to attend a meeting but his manager would be there,” said joint commissioner of police (crime) Pallab Kanti Ghosh.

“Praveen received a call soon after from a person who asked him to go to an address in Jamtala, about 5km away. He was taken hostage when he reached there,” Ghosh added.

According to the police, Sanjit masterminded a similar abduction in Baguiati. Randhir Jha, owner of an IT firm, was let off after his valuables were snatched.

The police said Praveen was kept hostage for two days and released after his family paid Rs 7 lakh.

If Sanjit had indeed managed to sneak in a cell phone, as claimed by the police, it exposed the security gaps in the jail.

“The signal jammers in the jail are of no use if someone tries to make a call from an open space. Connectivity is restricted only inside the cells,” said a telecom expert.

There have been allegations that anything — phones, SIM cards, narcotics or liquor — could be smuggled into the jail for a price.

“A visitor might have passed the phone to Sanjit or he might have bribed an official,” said a senior police officer.

Jail sources said inmates break or dismantle the phone when they sniff danger and dispose of or hide parts in separate locations inside the jail. “This makes detection extremely difficult, nearly impossible. That’s why we carry out sudden raids inside the cells. It is not always possible to keep an eye on everyone,” a senior jail official said.