Police have come up with names of some Uttar Pradesh-based gangs in their investigations into Exide chief S.B. Ganguly?s disappearance. In the past 24 hours, raids have been carried out on a number of hideouts of criminals who may have acted as local contacts of the gang that kidnapped Ganguly.
After the surge of misplaced optimism on Tuesday when Ganguly was said to have got in touch with the authorities here and his family, the police are now talking of a long time-frame for a breakthrough.
The deputy commissioner (detective department), Narayan Ghosh, today said: ?It may take two weeks for Ganguly to surface, or even more. We have received no threat or ransom demand. But we are certain he has been kept confined.?
Home (police) minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, who had raised hopes of an early solution on Tuesday in a monumental blunder, was a picture of reticence as he was subjected to a public lesson in crisis management by chief minister Jyoti Basu. In response to persistent queries from reporters about Ganguly, Basu said within earshot of understudy Bhattacharya: ?Such things cannot be discussed in public?.
The burst of police activity since yesterday, when expectations of Ganguly?s early return proved unfounded, followed sustained interrogation of gangster Manjit Singh, alias Mange. The Lucknow-based Mange was injured in an early morning shootout on Park Street with the special task force of the Uttar Pradesh police in December. The bloody encounter left four of his associates dead. Mange and his men had come to the city to kidnap a central Calcutta hotelier.
The 28-year-old Mange is close to Irfan Goga, an aide of underworld don Babloo Srivastava, now in jail at Naini in Allahabad but active nonetheless, using his cell phone as a bridge with the world outside. The Babloo Srivastava gang is at war with Dubai-based Dawood Ibrahim.
Soon after Ganguly disappeared last Friday, detectives started interrogating Mange on a tip-off that an Uttar Pradesh-based gang may be involved.
Mange told interrogators that these gangs take the help of local contacts to get familiar with the terrain. Based on this information, the police have conducted raids.
Deputy commissioner of police (south) Ranjit Pachnanda said Mohammed Shakil, who keeps criminals like Sheikh Dinesh, Chikna Anil and Sheikh Vinod on his payroll, was arrested from Park Street today.
?Shakil shuttles between Delhi, Lucknow and towns in Bihar. We are interrogating him to see if he has information about Ganguly,?? Pachnanda added.
Dinesh, Anil and Vinod stay on Anwar Shah Road and had kidnapped two city businessmen recently.
Mange has named eight gangs which are based in Azamgarh and Balia in Uttar Pradesh and Darbhanga in Bihar, but operate in Calcutta and Mumbai. He has mentioned gangsters like Fazlu, Akhilesh Singh, Anup Singh, Irfan, Ahmed, Rajinder Singh, Arvind Sharma and Abu Saleh. He told interrogators that Fazlu had kidnapped a couple of city businessmen in the past. Of the eight named by Mange, Fazlu, Akhilesh Singh and Abu Saleh are the big fish.
Mange said these men are mercenaries and can be hired to carry out kidnappings.
The police team, which was sent to Azamgarh, near Varanasi, to trace Ganguly, has been briefed about these gangs. The team has found the booth from where Ganguly is said to have called at 4 pm on Tuesday.
Detectives suspect that Ganguly is being shifted around eastern Uttar Pradesh towns. A senior Calcutta police officer has also spoken to the SP of Darbhanga district in Bihar, Shova Ohatkar, and told her about Ganguly?s disappearance and Fazlu?s possible involvement.
Buddhadev Bhattacharya today held a meeting with top police officers. The minister emerged from his chamber at 6.30 pm and when asked if there was a development, he just shook his head. On whether Ganguly had communicated with the government since Tuesday 4 pm, he said, ?No.??