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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Abduction by ‘fake CBI officers’: Kolkata Police look for Republic reporter

“Three persons have been arrested. There are more involved," a senior police officer said, adding that they were conducting raids to arrest Sengupta. Police, however, did not specify the allegations against Sengupta.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: May 27, 2021 7:20:22 am
In a statement, Republic Bangla said Sengupta was a "probationer", and "not a confirmed employee" and had been suspended on May 25, soon after they learnt of the "serious allegations" against him.

THE Kolkata Police is looking for a reporter of Republic Bangla in connection with a case in which three people have been arrested for posing as CBI officers and carrying out an abduction for ransom. Police said Avishek Sengupta was an accused and was absconding.

“Three persons have been arrested. There are more involved,” a senior police officer said, adding that they were conducting raids to arrest Sengupta. Police, however, did not specify the allegations against Sengupta.

In a statement, Republic Bangla said Sengupta was a “probationer”, and “not a confirmed employee” and had been suspended on May 25, soon after they learnt of the “serious allegations” against him. “A formal communication regarding his suspension has been sent via email to Avishek Sengupta yesterday. After repeated attempts to contact him, he remains unreachable on his phones and his whereabouts are not known to us,” the statement said.

On May 24, a resident of Bosepukur in Kolkata, Swity Nath Roy, complained to police that her husband Ajit Roy, a web designer, had been picked up by a group of people claiming to be CBI officers, and that she had later received a call demanding Rs 2 crore which had been negotiated down to Rs 15 lakh. She approached police after she paid the money and Ajit was released.

Police had arrested Swarup Roy, Pratik Sarkar and Rajesh Adhikari (allegedly the driver of the vehicle in which Ajit was abducted), and lodged a case under Sections 170, 364 A, 386, 120 B and 34 of the IPC (relating to impersonating a public servant, abduction and forcible detention, extortion, criminal conspiracy and common intention). Sengupta’s name allegedly came up during investigations.

In its statement, Republic Bangla said, “As an organization with zero tolerance towards such abhorrent criminal acts, the said probationer was immediately suspended on Tuesday evening pending a thorough probe into the matter.”

Sources said Sengupta had joined Republic Bangla on January 30. In a social media account, he identified himself as principal correspondent, and claimed to have worked for four small Bengali local news channels, apart from an online news portal. He covered CBI and police beats in most of the news channels, including Republic Bangla.

The FIR names ‘Swarup Roy, seven males, one lady and other unknown persons’ as suspects or accused. Roy said that the men claiming to be CBI officers who raided their home-cum-office took away three laptops and a hard disc, and said they were taking Ajit to Nizam Palace (which houses the CBI office in Kolkata). Roy said she later went to Nizam Palace with friends, only to be told by the central agency that they had not made any such arrest.

She said the ransom calls had come soon after, and that at around 8 the same evening, they had handed over Rs 15 lakh at a public toilet at Rashbehari Avenue.

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