The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Red faces over Buddha con kin

Raigunj/Calcutta, May 11: A day after the arrest of the couple impersonating as “close relatives” of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the case is getting more curious with red-faced North Dinajpur officials unable to explain how an officer of a Central government intelligence agency prompted the district administration to roll out the red carpet for them.

Having been taken for a ride by con duo Buli and Sanjay Duttagupta, who posed variously as “daughter and son-in-law” of Bhattacharjee and “niece and (her) husband” of the chief minister’s wife, district officials are now pinning the blame on Benugopal Ghosh, the deputy Central intelligence officer who had acted as the conduit between the cheat couple and the North Dinajpur administration in making all arrangements for their hospitality.

But officials are mum about why no one took the trouble of checking the antecedents of the couple and bent backwards to please them after hearing that they were the chief minister’s relatives.

Home secretary Amit Kiran Deb, besides ordering an inquiry into the incident, said the district officials were “too preoccupied” with the panchayat polls to verify what they had been told about the couple. “They took everything at face value and did not think it necessary to crosscheck anything,” Deb said.

On May 8, Ghosh received a call from the Duttaguptas, who requested that they be provided hospitality after claiming that they were “close relatives” of the chief minister.

Ghosh has said he did not know the Duttaguptas earlier — a claim contested by Buli who told The Telegraph today that he was known to them — but nevertheless passed on the request to district magistrate Aariz Aftab, who said that the needful would be done.

Thereafter, the couple stayed in accommodation provided by the district administration and travelled in a car provided from the district magistrate’s pool and went around visiting local CPM offices. They had travelled to Malda in the same car with a police escort.

Aftab agrees that the couple’s guesthouse booking had been done from the district collectorate, but denies that he had provided them a car. North Dinajpur superintendent of police Arun Kumar Sharma also denies that a police escort was provided.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said an inquiry has been started even at the party level to find out why activists had gone out of their way to assist the Duttaguptas.

“In our party, things don’t happen in this manner,” he said. “The least our local party office should have done is verify matters with Calcutta and check on their antecedents.” In fact, the local CPM office has lodged a complaint with the police against Ghosh for “misleading” them.

Senior officials of the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau said in Calcutta that Ghosh was certainly to blame for “falling prey” to the wiles of the Duttaguptas, but added that the North Dinajpur district administration is equally guilty of not cross-checking the information passed on to them. “Why should they believe and act according to what one of our junior officials is saying'” asked a senior bureau official.

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