The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mystery hand lands ex-stumper in SMS mess

A retired wicket-keeper stumped three former India captains and the head of the richest regional cricket body in the country with the power of the SMS.

Two-and-a-half months ago, Sambaran Banerjee, known for his safe hands, dropped his cellphone on his way to the airport. Rushing to Kanpur to officiate in a match, the former Bengal skipper was in a hurry and boarded the flight without reporting the loss to the service provider. By the time he did, the damage had already been done.

The hands in which the cellphone landed were anything but safe. The finger-happy person shot off obscene text messages to numbers saved in the phonebook, before switching it off and throwing away the SIM card.

“The man sent nasty messages to Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly, Dilip Vengsarkar and CAB president Prasun Mukherjee from my number. It was really embarrassing for me, as people started calling me up for an explanation,” Banerjee told Metro.

Besides sending explanatory messages to people whose numbers were stored in his phonebook, the ex-selector met police commissioner Mukherjee on his return from Kanpur.

“I have never felt so helpless in my life… I did not know what to do and met the police commissioner,” said Banerjee, yet to get out of the message mess.

With the top cop being in the line of SMS fire, the detective department (DD) officers swung into action, tracked the lost cellphone by using the 15-digit international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) number and detained an Alliance Air employee for interrogation.

“But the man denied having sent any message from Banerjee’s number. He told us that he had bought the cellphone by paying Rs 1,500,” said an investigating officer.

The officers did not take his version at face value and interrogated him a number of times at Lalbazar.

They also interrogated the driver of the vehicle that had dropped Banerjee to the airport to crack the mystery behind the messages.

“Meanwhile, the father of the Alliance Air employee visited us and tried to convince us that his son did not send the messages… The only crime he committed was buying a cellphone without papers,” said Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner of police (DD).

Though the needle of suspicion has shifted away from the Alliance Air employee, the cops have asked the man to cooperate with them and identify the person who sold him the cellphone.

“We hope to crack the case soon,” said deputy commissioner Singh.

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