The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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MLA charmed into con man’s tea trap

Calcutta, Nov. 25: Two old friends, one an MLA and the other a former MLA, both from Cooch Behar, were supposed to meet in the city today. But that didn’t happen and the failed rendezvous left Pushpak Ranjan Das, the CPM MLA from Toofanganj, poorer by Rs 20,000 and a gold chain.

Das came here on a personal visit. After meeting party officials and catching up with some of his friends, he decided to head back home today.

After finishing some work in Esplanade around 4 pm, Das decided to take a stroll down the Strand before boarding a launch from Chandpal Ghat to Howrah station.

From a distance, Das spied a launch ready to cross the river and he hastened towards the ferry ghat. At that moment, a stranger came running and called out to him: “Sir, please wait. The ex-MLA from Mekhliganj is also here. He spotted you rushing towards the ghat and asked me to stop you.”

In the eagerness to meet his friend, Das did not bother to check who the information came from. “Where is he' I must meet him,” said the MLA.

The man pointed out a tea stall some distance away, where the ex-MLA was apparently waiting for him.

Das later told police that as he made his way towards the tea stall, the man urged him to hand over one of his bags. “Please let me carry this bag for you. After all, you are an MLA and you should not be carrying all the load yourself,” the man said.

“Do not worry,” he added, and claimed to be from the MLA’s native place and “a close associate of your friend”. Das obliged. The man was walking next to him with one of his bags. Moments later, Das said: “But I don’t see anybody there (at the tea stall).” The man with his bag said the former MLA must be sitting “behind the big tree”.

A dose of distraction and Das realised the man with his bag was missing. People at the stall said they knew about no former MLA waiting for a guest.

A stunned Das turned to the residents and shop owners for help but no one had seen the slim and suave man. Left with no choice, he walked down to the Maidan police station.

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