The victim: Jyoti Basu, former chief minister.
The crime: Skimming Rs 100,500 using a stolen ATM card.
Prime suspect: Ardhendu Mondal, a policeman assigned to protect Basu since 1997.
The most secure house in Bengal found itself at the centre of an audacious crime with the revelation today that a policeman and a handful of domestic aides robbed Basu of over Rs 1 lakh.
Mondal, an assistant sub-inspector of the intelligence branch, had stolen Basu's ATM card with the help of a cook and a Group D employee.
The theft, which occurred between March 9 and 19, came to light on Wednesday when Basu was examining a statement from the Bikash Bhavan branch of the State Bank of India, Chayan Mukherjee, inspector-general (law and order) said. The card and the PIN number jotted on a piece of paper were kept together in an envelope on top of an almirah.
'Jyotibabu was shocked to discover that over Rs 1 lakh had been taken out of his account in instalments of Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 without his knowledge. By March 19, the balance had been reduced to Rs 57.39,' said an investigator.
The account was opened a few years ago to enable Basu to credit his pension ' Rs 3,000 a month ' and medical allowances due to a former MLA.
When informal questioning of the staff and the policemen on duty did not help crack the mystery, a complaint was lodged on Thursday with the police.
Faced with grilling, Mondal, who was deployed inside Indira Bhavan ' Basu's official residence in Salt Lake ' confessed and was arrested. The cook, Dilip Sau, was also arrested.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said the incident did not suggest any lapse in the security system at Basu's residence. 'Policer lokerai korechhe (the police have only done it),' he added.
A preliminary inquiry report has said no one seemed to be aware of the responsibilities of the IB officials posted at Basu's house. At least 150 hands, including members from the IB, the special branch and the PWD, have been assigned to look after the house.