The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cell stars in snatch ’n’ snare

An operation, swift and smooth, enabled the Maidan police to track down and round up three miscreants within half-an-hour of robbing a trader recently. What helped the cops was a cellphone bungle by one of the goons.

The snatch-and-snare drama unfolded late in the evening near JK Island, in front of Fort William, where Haradhan Gupta had stopped to take refuge from the rain under a tree. Three young men, later identified as Laloo Mollah, Shahabuddin and Mozaffar Halder, surrounded Gupta and ordered him to hand over all that he was carrying.

The trio managed to snatch Rs 9,400 and a cellphone from the trader who chose not to resist the goons on that desolate stretch, said Asish Sengupta, officer-in-charge of Maidan police station.

Gupta went straight to Maidan thana and lodged a complaint. The policemen then started dialling his cellphone and on the third attempt, someone answered the call. It was one of the goons, Mollah, who during interrogation confessed that he had received the call, but could not switch it off as he had no idea how to operate a cellphone.

“The goons went about the task of dividing up their booty, unaware that the cellphone was still on. Soon, they started chalking out their escape route,” said Sengupta. All the while, officers at Maidan police station were listening in, thanks to the cellphone. “Privy to all their plans, we drew up our plan,” he added.

The goons hired a taxi and headed towards Majherhat bridge. “A team of officers rushed to the bridge to intercept the miscreants,” added Sengupta. “Minutes after reaching the bridge, a taxi with three youths inside was spotted and stopped.”

When the trip was frisked, all the goods snatched from Gupta were found. Later, Gupta identified the culprits.

During preliminary investigation, police came to know that the trio, residents of Majherhat and Usthi in South 24-Parganas, had robbed three traders last month. “They operated in the Maidan area and targeted those who pass through alone in the evening. There are other criminal groups active in the area, too. We have already intensified vigil,” claimed Sengupta.

Suicide: Shanti Devi, an 18-year-old housewife, committed suicide by hanging herself at her residence in the South Port police station area on Saturday.

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