The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tech & tip-off in track-down
- Cell phone, sighting trap fugitive Dilip

The seeds of Dilip Banerjee's capture were sown early last month with the arrest of Palash Das.

An associate of hatkata Dilip ' as Banerjee was known in cop and criminal circles ' Palash was picked up from Chakdah in Nadia district. As soon as his interrogation began, police realised they were hot on the fugitive's trail.

Palash had last been seen with Dilip in Hasnabad, in North 24-Parganas, where the goon with the missing hand had been holed up for a while.

Palash provided police with vital cell phone numbers of members from the crime syndicate Dilip kept in touch with regularly.

This was the breakthrough police had been waiting for and they set about tracking Dilip's associates down.

First, to clear the legal hurdles, police sought permission to tap the numbers divulged by Palash. This done, each number was tapped and Dilip's voice identified while he was speaking to his associates.

'We figured out through the cell phone network that he was speaking from somewhere in North 24-Parganas,' said North 24-Parganas superintendent of police Praveen Kumar.

'We even zeroed in on the small towns he was speaking from. What we could not trace was his precise location. For this we had to activate our network of informants,' added Kumar.

As the hunt began in right earnest, Dilip always seemed to be one step ahead of the police team on his trail.

'It was so frustrating for us,' admitted an official. 'We would work so hard to track him down, only to find that he had been tipped off just as we were on our way to round him up,' he added.

With the North 24-Parganas force turning up the heat late last month, Dilip decided to flee the district and go underground in Hooghly.

Police on Friday were tight-lipped about disclosing where and with whom Dilip had been holed up in Hooghly, before shifting to the Haripal home of East Bengal footballer Sasthi Duley, about a week ago.

Police sources, however, revealed Dilip had been spending some time with his associates in Singur, Champadanga and Chanditala before finally moving into Duley's home in Haripal.

'He was moving from one place to another quite frequently, not staying in one place for too long, to avoid detection,' an official said. 'But we had alerted our informants in the hope that he would be spotted and word would be relayed back to us.'

For all the heightened cop action, Dilip may not have been spotted if he had not got a trifle complacent and stepped into public view on Ashtami.

With a towel wrapped around his missing left hand, Dilip trooped into a Puja pandal. He was spotted there by a police informant and the vital message was relayed swiftly back to the cops.

From that sighting on, it was just a matter of time before the final entrapment of a fugitive who had kept the cops on their toes for months.

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