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Cops not to seek extension of remand

Two of the three arrested foreigners at Jalpaiguri court on Sunday. Picture by Biplab Basak

Feb. 10: Jalpaiguri police will not seek further remand for the three foreigners who were arrested from a resort in Chulsa yesterday for possessing 22 satellite phones that were being operated without permission from the government of India.

Senior police officers, who had earlier said that they found no angle of espionage, today said the interrogation of the three had been completed.

“Our interrogation is complete and we have not found anything suspicious about the arrested men. We will not appeal for their remand,” said an officer.

Benoit Marie Theresez Boakman of Belgium, Wadhen Kerstian from Germany and Dan Mitson who is a Briton, had been remanded in two days’ police custody by the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Jalpaiguri yesterday. They would be produced in court tomorrow.

Swarup Mondal, the lawyer who appeared on behalf of the arrested trio, said he would once again pray for their bail.

“My clients are innocent and I will appeal for their bail when they are produced in the court tomorrow. I cannot reveal the exact content of the appeal,” Mondal said.

The arrested men have been booked under Section 20 of the Indian Telegraph Act according to which, anyone using satellite phone communication devises without permission is liable to imprisonment for up to three years or a fine, or both.

A senior police officer said: “The group that has been shooting a reality show is free to continue with their shoot. We have no objection to that but it should be without the use of satellite phones, which are in our custody anyway.”

The three arrested men are part of a group of 51 foreigners who are shooting a Dutch reality show, Peking Express.

Thirty-three of the 51 are from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Italy and England. There were 33 Indians working as translators.

In the show, couples are thrown the challenge to hike on a budget in foreign countries and overcome hurdles set for them. The reality show has several versions across Europe.

The organisers said the contestants were given the satellite phones so that they could be tracked as they may venture into a terrain where cellphone networks are feeble or non-existent.