The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lakhs found in bag missing for five years

The mystery of the missing bag. Satyajit Ray would have found in the incident a perfect sequel to his famous Feluda thriller, Baksho Rahasya.

A briefcase containing a huge amount of money was found in an almirah of a government office on Friday, five years after it had disappeared.

The briefcase, containing Rs 2.27 lakh, had disappeared from the place from where it was recovered on Friday. The amount was supposed to have been paid to the staff of National Insurance Company’s Hare Street branch as salaries for the month of February 1997.

Immediately after the money disappeared from the company’s India Exchange Place office, the management suspended some employees, including an accountant. A complaint was lodged with the Hare Street police and the detective department launched a probe into the incident. But the case could not be cracked. “We did not arrest anyone in this connection. The authorities had not mentioned any names in their complaint,” said a police officer.

The case was about to have been closed as chances of recovering the money seemed remote. Meanwhile, the insurance company filed a petition before the court, demanding a CBI probe into the matter. But the court rejected the appeal.

On Friday afternoon, the employees stumbled upon the briefcase in the same cupboard from which it had been reportedly stolen in 1997, said deputy commissioner, central division, Zulfiquar Hasan.

The company authorities contacted the Hare Street police station immediately. Officers opened the briefcase and found the money. “Everything was intact. All 54 brown packets containing the money seemed to have been untouched in all these five years,” said Hasan.

“Only after checking the date of issuance of the notes can we say whether these are the stolen ones,” added Hasan.

The employees told the police on Friday that it was impossible for the briefcase to have been lying in the cupboard for five years. “The NIC staffers told us that they use the almirah frequently. It was opened even a few days ago,” said an official of Hare Street police station.

On Saturday, the investigators sought out the case-file that had been stashed away in a corner of the record room for the past few years. “We have summoned the officers who conducted the probe when the money had gone missing. We will have to start the investigation afresh. The employees will be interrogated soon,” stated Hasan.

The NIC employees’ union had opposed the authorities’ move to suspend the workers. They had alleged that the suspension was baseless, as the police did not find the stolen money in the possession of the suspended persons. The management should have waited for the report from the police, they say. Union members now demand that the police submit a report on their findings.

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