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Relief for teacher in theft case

Debasish Sarkar

The theft slur on college professor Debasish Sarkar eased on Friday with police saying there was “ample circumstantial evidence” to rule out his vehicle being used in the crime reported by a lorry driver in the Kidderpore area.

“We have not found any evidence to substantiate that Sarkar’s vehicle was present at the scene of crime,” an officer at Hastings police station said.

The police had started a criminal case against Sarkar, professor of economics at Jhargram Raj College and a critic of the Mamata Banerjee government, on the basis of a complaint lodged last Tuesday by a man who identified himself as a lorry driver.

The complainant said two youths came to Kidderpore that afternoon in a car whose registration number, colour and model matched that of Sarkar’s and took away cash and two mobile phones from the “cabin” of his lorry.

Officers investigating the case said there was nothing to doubt that Sarkar’s vehicle, a dark grey Tata Indigo, was elsewhere when the alleged crime occurred. “Our preliminary inquiry revealed that Sarkar drives the car....The description of either of the accused doesn’t match him either,” an officer said.

Sarkar said he was “unaware” of the progress of the investigation since there had been “no communication” from the police.

“The police came to my house and informed me that a complaint had been lodged against me, something that caused me a lot of stress. If they have found that the charges against me are false, it is their duty to officially declare it and withdraw the charges. I will seek legal help if I do not get such a declaration,” said the professor, who is known to speak his mind about government policies during panel discussions on news channels.

Police sources said the lorry driver who lodged the complaint of theft might have made a mistake in noting down the registration number of the car or the alleged snatchers were possibly using a forged number plate that happened to match that of Sarkar’s Indigo.

Identikits of the two youths who allegedly snatched Rs 1,530 and two mobile phones from the complainant’s lorry will be drawn up to take the investigation forward, the sources said.