The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Computers, spares seized, kingpin flees
- CID swoop on Patna godown

Following up on leads picked up during investigations over the past two months, a team of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) swooped down on a Patna neighbourhood on Tuesday night to recover stolen computers and spares worth Rs 1.25 crores.

Sources said six policemen, armed with self-loading rifles and assisted by Patna police, surrounded the area and stormed the godown after breaking open the gate. But by the time they got in, the kingpin had escaped.

“It was late in the night and the criminals were sleeping. They were taken by surprise and did not resist. We found a few improvised country-made rifles in the godown. The computers and spares were stored inside the factory shed,’’ said a CID officer, who took part in the raid.

The officer added that the kingpin had escaped. “He was not there when we raided the place. He had probably got wind of it and had fled Patna,’’ he said.

According to the police, Hewlett Packard, a computer hardware firm, had packed the consignment in a lorry that left Mumbai for Calcutta in first week of March. The criminals waylaid the lorry when it was close to Chirchira, in Lodashali, on the Bihar-Midnapore border.

Five of them pushed the driver and his help to the back seat and drove the vehicle towards Jamshedpur. CID officers suspect that a company insider had tipped off the criminals.

When contacted, the company’s Calcutta office declined comment. The office referred the matter to its Bangalore counterpart, where a spokesman said: “We are in the process of collecting the facts with regard to the hijacking of our truck.”

Preliminary investigation revealed that on coming close to the Steel City, the criminals killed the driver and his help and dumped their bodies in an adjoining field. “We have not been able to trace the bodies. But the arrested criminals confessed during preliminary investigations that they had killed the two men and dumped their bodies near Jamshedpur,’’ said CID additional director Ranjit Mohanty.

They took the vehicle to Patna, where the computer and spares were unloaded and stored in the godown. “The huge godown is owned by an influential local politician and the criminals kept the materials there and disposed of the vehicle,’’ a senior sleuth said. When the consignment did not reach the city in time, officials of the company panicked and registered a complaint with Sankrail police station, in Howrah.

“Initially, we were clueless. We tapped a few sources in Midnapore and Howrah. They tipped us off about the gang. During investigations, we found out that a few insiders in the company were in cahoots with the criminals. We are cross-checking the information,’’ a CID officer said.

Water protest: Residents blocked Netaji Subhash Road in Howrah on Wednesday morning to protest the rescheduling of water supply timings. The new timings were introduced last Monday. Local Chhatra Parishad president Shyamal Mitra led the protesters. However, Howrah mayor Gopal Mukherjee said the timings had been rescheduled to boost water pressure in certain areas.

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