Behrampore, July 26: A customs constable was caught red-handed by local residents last night while selling seized goods from the department’s Raghunathgunj office in Murshidabad district, about 250 km from Calcutta.
The officer-in-charge of Raghunathgunj police station, Prabhakar Chatterjee, said he received a phone call after residents surrounded senior constable Sunil Barua and three others who had come to take away some goods kept in the customs office.
The goods were supposedly confiscated from smugglers.
“We received a phone call late last night that there was some commotion at the customs office. It was about 10.30 pm that I went to the office and we arrested Barua as well as a trader from Behrampore, Ali Nawaz, and two others from the office. We also seized goods worth about a lakh,” Chatterjee said. He added that Nawaz had come to take the goods after paying Barua.
The four men were today produced at the Jangipur sub-divisional court and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
Customs sources said a large number of mini television sets, battery chargers, electronic toys and other articles had been stored in the office. They said the goods were seized a few days ago when customs officers raided a truck on National Highway 34, near Raghunathgunj.
Though no customs officer would comment on Barua’s arrest, the sources at the office alleged that in May he had also sold foreign-made garments worth about Rs 40,000.
“One of our staff, Rabindranath Roy, chanced upon Barua when he was stealing the clothes and a fight had ensued between the two. Both of them had lodged FIRs with the Raghunathgunj police, but for some reason no one pursued the matter,” a senior officer said on condition of anonymity.
Police sources said Barua had reportedly confessed about his involvement. “He also claimed that some of his colleagues took a share of the sales proceeds after he contacted the traders who bought the items. He claimed that he was made a scapegoat and the real culprits should be nabbed. He has given us some names and we are looking into the allegations,” a police officer said.