The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Threat at spot-the-dacoits parade

Islampur, Sept. 24: Four witnesses, who were here to identify some train dacoits, were allegedly threatened by the jail staff members with dire consequences if they identified positively.

The Government Railway Police (GRP) at Dalkhola, who are handling the case, received the complaint from the witnesses and placed it before the additional chief judicial magistrate of Islampur.

The officer-in-charge of the Dalkhola GRP, Arindam Acharjee, claimed that he had come to know the names of the jail staff members — a barber and a driver — who were part of a racket involved in protecting the accused.

Acharjee alleged that “some powerful persons” were at work for their “personal gains”.

A dozen men had been rounded up after the robbery on board the Sealdah-bound Darjeeling Mail on August 9. The dacoits had fled with 19 mobiles, nine watches and Rs 40,000 in cash when the train came to a sudden halt between Barsoi and Malda.

The witnesses had arrived here from Siliguri on Thursday to identify the dacoits. They complained that some of the accused had shaved their heads and trimmed their beards. Others had dyed their hair.

The GRP in its complaint to the ACJM cited another instance in which an accused, Dinesh Das, arrested on board the Up Ernakulam Express at Kishenganj, had undergone a makeover in jail to change his countenance.

Das was caught trying to rob passengers after drugging them with tranquilliser-laced soft drinks. While fleeing, he had on him Rs 71,000 in cash, two gold rings and three mobile handsets.

The jail staff were accused of helping Das trim his hair and dye it so that it became difficult to identify him during the “test-identification” parade. “He had also been supplied with a new shirt and trousers to make him look as respectable as possible and this was done with the connivance of the jail staff,” said a GRP officer.

In the letter to the ACJM (a copy of which is with The Telegraph), the GRP’s Dalkhola officer-in-charge, said the witnesses in the Darjeeling Mail dacoity case, have been shaken by the threats. “One staff (sic) also gave some leaflets to the victim and also requested them to talk with the person (sic) with a particular phone number which is very illegal and questionable,” the letter reads.

The jailer of the Islampur prison, Soumesh Das, said the allegations were “completely baseless”. He refused further comment. The subdivisional officer of Islampur, Jagdish Prasad Meena, who is also the superintendent of the jail, said he was not aware of the complaint.

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