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Extortion calls from prison

Sanjit Purkayet, who was arrested on the charge of running a drug-peddling racket, has allegedly been caught a second time making extortion calls from behind bars.

A Samsung phone was seized from Sanjit, now lodged at Presidency jail, on Tuesday.

“He was using a prepaid SIM, which had been charged with Rs 100. When the phone was seized from him, the available balance was Rs 2. Of the many calls he had made from the phone, at least six were extortion calls,” said a senior officer in the correctional home department.

Sources in the detective department said Sanjit used to call IT professionals from Alipore Central jail posing as clients and ask them to meet him at far off places, such as Joynagar in South 24-Parganas.

“Once the victim would reach the designated place, Sanjit’s accomplices would overpower him and then call up his family, demanding ransom,” said an officer.

At least two such cases were reported. Praveen Chhajer, who runs an IT firm in Tollygunge, was kidnapped and kept hostage for two days in South 24-Parganas. Sources said he was released after his family had paid a ransom of Rs 7 lakh.

Randhir Jha, the owner of another IT firm, was kidnapped and kept hostage for a night. He was let off after the kidnappers snatched his two cell phones, tablet and wedding ring.

The police came to know in February that Sanjit had engineered both abductions from the Alipore jail.

Following the seizure of a phone from him, Sanjit was shifted from Alipore jail to Presidency jail, which is considered “comparatively stricter” than other jails.

Insiders, however, said tight security meant that the price of smuggling a phone into Presidency jail was higher than other jails.

“A basic phone that costs Rs 2,000 can be obtained inside the jail for three times the price. The premium is because of increased vigilance in and around the jail,” said a source.

A senior officer of the home department said a chain of people — mostly warders and watchmen, working in tandem with undertrials and convicts inside the jail — is engaged in smuggling goods into the premises.

“Five jailors at three central correctional homes — Alipore, Presidency and Dum Dum — are under the scanner for running such rackets,” said an officer.

“No action has yet been taken against any of the five because of lack of evidence,” said the source.

Bank blaze

A fire broke out at the Sarat Bose Road branch of a PSU bank around 5.30am on Thursday. Three fire tenders doused the flames within 15 minutes.

Another fire broke out at Harganj Bazaar in Salkia, Howrah, at 2.30am destroying 20 stalls. Five tenders doused the fire within an hour.