Purulia, June 6: The bundles of notes neatly laid out on superintendent of police V.K. Goyal’s table from end to end today looked as if a bank dacoity had been busted and the loot recovered.
The Rs 27 lakh in denominations of Rs 1,000, 500 and 100 were, however, ransom money from at least four major kidnappings carried out over the past year in Bihar, Jharkhand and Bengal. Gold and diamond jewellery worth Rs 2 lakh, pass-books and fixed deposit receipts of another Rs 13 lakh were also on display in what could be the biggest haul of abduction money in the state in recent times.
“We have seized or traced 90 per cent of what was paid for the release of Jhalda industrialist Naresh Agarwal,’’ said Goyal. “We have also recovered ransom money and assets related to kidnappings in Barakar, Hazaribagh and Durg and Bhilai.” The main culprit, Gopal Prasad Gupta, 35, was arrested with his henchmen in raids carried out simultaneously in Dhanbad and Jhalda early last month.
Agarwal and his driver were kidnapped while travelling from Purulia to Durgapur on April 4. They were released on April 16, but the police continued the investigation. “We set up five teams. One of them went to the Naxalite-infested Jamui district in Bihar,” Goyal said.
The district police chief led the raid on Gupta’s house at Dhansar in Dhanbad. “We didn’t know what he looked like. But from the pass-books, cash and mobile phones in his possession, we realised he was the mastermind. His interrogation exposed the gang’s involvement in the abductions of businessmen, a doctor and a telecom engineer in Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand,” Goyal said.
Gupta’s links to crime dates back to 1991, when he stole motorcycles and carried out small-time looting and extortion. “He fled a Dhanbad jail in 1996,” said the police.
Jamboni BDO shifted
The block development officer of Jamboni in West Midnapore was transferred today.
Sital Chandra Sarkar was earlier slammed in public by the district CPM for “colluding with the Opposition” during the panchayat poll.
The officer received an order from Writers Buildings today, saying he has been shifted to East Midnapore’s Khejuria Block-I.