Calcutta, Nov. 2: Footballers Sasthi Duley and Dipankar Roy were arrested early this morning for 'harbouring' Dilip Banerjee, better known as hatkata Dilip and one of Bengal's most wanted criminals, and 'conspiring' to keep him away from the arms of the law. They were charged under Sections 120B and 216 of the IPC.
Both are bailable charges, but police prayed for custody as they were harbouring a criminal charged with murder. When the East Bengal players ' in detention since Sunday night ' were produced at the sub-divisional judicial magistrate's court in Barrackpore this afternoon amid tight security, the judge accepted the police's contention and remanded them in police custody till November 7.
The arrest came after hours of grilling by the top brass of the North 24-Parganas police, including the deputy inspector-general, presidency range, Sanjay Chander, and the superintendent of police, Praveen Kumar. Officially, the police would not comment on the course of the questioning.
However, sources said by early this morning it had become clear that the two were not unaware of the criminal antecedents of Dilip, who had been staying at Sasthi's home at Haripal in Hooghly for the past three months.
'It is only when Sasthi and Dipankar failed to establish their innocence did we decide to arrest them,' said a police officer.
'We interrogated them separately, together and in the presence of Dilip. We decided to arrest them when the inconsistencies in their versions became apparent. It was evident that they were not speaking the truth and that they had a clear idea who Dilip was.'
Police sources said on being interrogated individually at Bidhannagar East police station, Sasthi tried to pass the buck to Dipankar. He said that his teammate had brought Dilip over to Haripal and that he was unaware of the criminal's past. Sasthi insisted that Dipankar had directly approached his elder brother Uday, and that he had been kept out of the loop.
Dipankar tried to pin the blame on 'another senior footballer' who had apparently instructed him to take Dilip to Haripal. The police are investigating, but so far no other footballer has surfaced.
When Sasthi and Dipankar were questioned together and the two started contradicting each other, the police decided, around 2.30 am, to bring Dilip from the airport police station for joint interrogation. This was done at the instance of the inspector-general of police, south Bengal, Vageesh Mishra.
The sources said it was only when Dilip was brought that the picture became clearer. Dilip, apparently, said the two were not unaware of his identity.