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Security protocols flouted, lapses in Nickole search too

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OUR BUREAU Published 23.08.10, 12:00 AM

Siliguri, Aug. 22: The CID team that had Nickole Tamang in its custody apparently ignored several protocols followed by policemen travelling with an accused, leading to his disappearance.

One of the breached protocols was that an escort team given to the CID by the district police to guard Tamang was sent back when he was retained at Pintail Village overnight — another security rule that was flouted.

“After the court granted police remand, the CID team brought Tamang to Siliguri on Thursday to interrogate him. Over the past three days, they had taken him to several places, including Pintail Village, for investigation but brought him back to Pradhannagar police station where he used to stay in the lock-up at night. Last night, the team did not act according to rules,” Devendra Prakash Singh, the superintendent of police of Darjeeling, said today.

“The team kept Nickole with them at Pintail Village. I had no clue that he had been kept there and came to know about it only this morning when the message of his escape reached me,” he said.

According to senior officers, an accused in police custody has to be kept at night in the lock-up of the police station where the investigators are based. “During the day, they can take him out and move to places necessary for investigations,” a senior officer said.

The Darjeeling district police chief also said the CID team had no additional force posted at Pintail where Nickole was being kept overnight. Singh said the district police had formed a five-member team of a sub-inspector and four constables to escort Tamang if he was moved around.

“Yesterday, the escort team was sent back to Pradhannagar police station,” Singh said. Sources said around 9pm, the escorts were reportedly asked by the CID to leave Pintail and come back at 9am today. However, Singh said he was not ready to comment on the CID action. “Whatever has been done in this case (Madan Tamang murder case) was done in a combined manner and naturally, the issue of the escape, too, has to be taken up in a combined manner,” he said.

Even after the escape, neither the CID nor the intelligence officers searched the vicinity of Pintail Village. It was around 11.15am, more than four hours after Nickole was reported missing, that Singh, along with Siliguri additional superintendent of police Gaurav Sharma, visited Pintail.

Singh and his team inspected the area outside the boundary wall, particularly the site behind bungalow 29, where Nickole had been kept for the night. Police teams fanned out in the neighbourhood around noon, only to draw a blank.

“Policemen were standing on highways, braving the rain to search cars. Men in mufti were at New Jalpaiguri station and also at Tenzing Norgay Central Bus Terminus, but none of them carried any picture of Nickole, who is not a well-known or a top leader of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha so that he can be easily recognised. Only a handful of policemen, most of them posted in Darjeeling, can identify him without a picture,” an intelligence officer said.

Poster in Kurseong

A hand-written poster signed by the Nari Morcha was found pasted at the motor stand in Kurseong today. The poster read that Bharti Tamang, Dawa Sherpa and Pratap Khati of the ABGL would not be allowed to return to the hills because they were “anti-Gorkhaland”.

Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang, however, said his party had not taken any such stand.

All three had left for Delhi about a week ago to meet top leaders in the government and. They have met Union home minister P. Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. They are scheduled to meet Rahul Gandhi tomorrow to discuss the hill issues.

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