When the investigation started, police thought they were after two cheats who forged tickets and hotel bills to rob a Japanese tourist. When the probe ended on Sunday, they discovered that one of the frauds had, a few months ago, promised to marry another Japanese tourist and refused to recognise her after fleecing her.
Park Circus resident Shahid Iqbal, who worked in tandem with friend and neighbour Sagir Khan, exploited their knowledge of Japanese to befriend tourists from that country and rob them.
Till Sunday that is, when Beniapukur police, acting on a complaint by Hidenbu Dakeucihi, ripped apart their friendly tour-guide mask.
Dakeucihi, who arrived here on August 6, checked into a Sudder Street hotel. When he ventured out for a quick look at the neighbourhood, he walked straight into the trap laid by Iqbal and Khan. Speaking fluent Japanese, Iqbal and Khan managed to convince him that he was paying “too much” for his small room. They promised to find him a bigger room closer to the airport at a much lower tariff and Dakeucihi fell for it.
The next day (August 7), Dakeucihi told them that he was going to Delhi and Agra, deputy commissioner (eastern suburban division) Anuj Sharma said on Sunday.
Dakeucihi paid them Rs 20,000 and $ 140 for hotel bookings in Delhi and Agra and the return trip to Calcutta. The same evening, he got the “tickets” and “bills”. When Dakeucihi went to board the Rajdhani from Howrah on Friday, he realised he had been gypped.
The next day (Saturday), he lodged a complaint with Beniapukur police station against Iqbal and Khan. On Sunday, police picked them up for interrogation from their homes.
Officials found out that Dakeucihi was not the first of the duo’s victims. Iqbal had pretended to be in love with a Japanese woman (name withheld by police) in January this year.
After going around Calcutta for a few days with Iqbal, she was convinced that he was her man. So, when Iqbal proposed marriage, she accepted readily. They went to a marriage registrar’s office and gave the one-month notice.
She went back to her country to complete all her formalities there and started sending back yens, amounting to Rs 8 lakh, to Iqbal’s account here. She then came back within a month to get married to her Indian boyfriend.
But Iqbal refused to have anything to do with her and feigned ignorance about the yens. She complained to Beniapukur police, but could not provide any details of Iqbal. She has, at last, been able to get back at her man.