The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Son held for gold heist plot

Calcutta, April 23: Four days after a Gujarat-based trader was looted of jewellery worth over Rs 20 lakh on his way home from the airport, police picked up his son and nephew for staging the heist.

Fifty-year-old Hemendra Soni came to the city by a flight from Mumbai around 2.30 am on Monday. His son Hitendra, 30, was with him. His nephew Himangshu Soni, 27, went to receive them.

The trio then got into a white Ambassador and sped towards Hemendra's Burtolla home via VIP Road.

Around 3 am, a car stopped them at Kaikhali and a gun-toting gang snatched the gold.

Police said Hitendra and Himangshu looked scared during interrogation. 'It seemed that they had prepared a routine explanation. That they did not offer any resistance to the gangsters was also very surprising,' said Praveen Kumar, the North 24-Parganas superintendent of police.

The staged-robbery angle appeared a possibility to the police from the very onset of the probe.

During the investigation, one of the first steps the police took was to gather the phone call statements of the youths from mobile phone service providers.

'They had made calls to a lot of numbers, which they could not explain. Moreover, of late, the cousins spoke to each other quite a lot. They could not explain why,' said Barasat subdivisional police officer S.M.H. Mirza.

The police questioned the cousins individually. In the face of intense grilling, Hitendra confessed to plotting the robbery with his cousin.

'We wanted money to start a business of our own and thought that we could use the money after selling the gold,' Himangshu told the police.

Once the 30-year-old confessed in front of his bewildered father, the police knew the case was cracked.

'The fact that Hitendra Soni was carrying ornaments for another businessman was enough reason for the youths to strike. They knew that Hitendra won't lose the money. But they could not play their cards well enough,' said Kumar.

It was Hitendra who got in touch with Himangshu and asked him to use his contacts to plan the robbery. 'Papa is carrying a lot of gold, but it does not belong to him. If we want to make it big, this is the time to do it,' he reportedly told his cousin.

Accordingly, Himangshu contacted some criminals of the Kaikhali area whom he knew and asked them to carry out the task. The cousins had agreed to share 30 per cent of the booty with them.

Once the plane landed, Himangshu informed the robbers over phone to get ready to intercept their car near Kaikhali. After the gangsters completed the task, their car sped away towards Rajarhat.

Hemendra rushed to the Baguiati police station to lodge a complaint. Today, he hung his head in shame.

'The father told his arrested son that he would have given him any amount of money. 'All he had to do was to ask for it and not rob me',' the subdivisional police officer said.

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