Calcutta, Sept. 4: Police arrested eight youths last night from the Esplanade bus depot and claimed to have foiled their plan to rob passengers of a long-distance bus to north Bengal.
Several daggers and cartridges were recovered from the eight youngsters. Four others, including the kingpin, all believed to be carrying pistols, managed to give the sleuths the slip.
Anuj Sharma, deputy commissioner of police, south division, said the miscreants were caught red-handed when, pretending to be passengers, they assembled at the depot to board a north Bengal-bound bus. “Preliminary investigation shows all the arrested youths are from different parts of South 24-Parganas. We have alerted our counterparts in adjoining districts and passed on information on the four gang members who fled,” he said.
Officials of Maidan police station had received a tip-off that the gang would assemble at the bus depot on Friday night. “Accordingly, we activated our source network and laid a trap. Plainclothes policemen were deployed since evening and kept a close watch on both government and private long-distance buses leaving the depot,” said officer-in-charge Asish Sengupta.
A security ring was quietly thrown around the bus depot. “We realised we were on the right track around 8 pm when the eight youths gathered. Our suspicion was confirmed when four others joined the group and started talking,” said an officer who participated in the operation. Police swung into action as the gang started planning which bus they would “target”.
“As we started surrounding them gradually, they sensed trouble and began running. And we started chasing them,” said another officer of Maidan police station.
Police managed to pin down eight, identified as Rashid Ali Naskar, Rahmed Sardar, Surajul, Hafizul, Perman Fakir, Akbar Ali Mollah, Anisur Sardar and Jamal Ali Laskar.
“They know a section of businessmen board the late night buses after collecting dues from the city. They were trying to target the bus with a large number of businessmen,” said Sengupta.
Elaborating on the gang’s modus operandi, the officer said: “They normally go on a looting spree after leaving Krishnagar. They know the locations of police check-posts and details of the patrolling system. They have a clear idea that there is a long stretch on National Highway 34 — from Krishnagar to Bethuadahari and Debagram — which police normally do not patrol.”
During interrogation, police gathered the arrested were from Baruipur, Champahati, Mograhat and Belagachi in South 24-Parganas.
“All of them have criminal antecedents. They have been arrested in the past by the district police,” said the officer.