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Devbrat Patnaik

Balasore: While on many occasions an alleged nexus between police and drug mafia has put the former in a fix in Odisha, the recent arrest of a Bangladeshi resident staying at Balasore jail barrack under the custody of police, who was found in possession of the contraband item has once again hinted at police-mafia deep links. District SP says stringent action will be taken if during the course of investigation any police personnel is found involved in the drug cartel.

Last Sunday, one Sheikh Babu Khan who hails from Bangladesh, was arrested by Sahadevkhunta Police in Balasore following seizure of 43-gram brown sugar worth Rs 4 lakh and Rs 24,000 in cash from him after a raid.

Khan is being interrogated to elicit more information regarding the racket, and sources said the tentacles of illegal narcotics trade spreads to the neighbouring nation of Bangladesh.

"I am not involved in any drug deal. I am being falsely implicated. I am always surrounded by police, wherefrom will I get the drugs? All the cash with me is the money I had got for working in the jail," said the arrested Bangladeshi citizen.

As per police, he was fixing a deal through mobile phone. However, the moot question is how was Khan able to obtain a mobile phone and a SIM card and subsequently the contraband despite being on the radar of cops in the police barrack?

Lawyer Guruprasad Behera stated, "How did he (Khan) get a mobile phone? Against whom has the SIM been issued? Reports are abuzz that he was making a deal with traders in Bangladesh through WhatsApp. Without photo and ID card, a SIM cannot be issued. Who gave him the SIM? Who purchased it? Definitely, the action of police is under question now."

According to sources, Khan has served a jail term of 13 years in Chowdwar Jail after being arrested in a loot case in 2007. Following completion of his jail term, he could not go back to his home due to lockdown and shutdown imposed during Covid-19 and for the last eight months, he had been staying at Balasore jail barrack under the custody of 5 police personnel led by a Havildar.

Sources further claim that Khan was also involved in illegal gun trade.

On the alleged police patronage, Balasore SP Sudhansu Sekhar Mishra said, "He (Khan) is a released convict. We cannot curtail his freedom as he had already completed his jail term. We cannot interfere in his private life to see where he goes and what he does. So it is not justified to conclude anything right now without an investigation. We will wait for the probe report and accordingly, action would be taken against whosoever is found involved."

READ | Odisha: CB Claims Record Brown Sugar Seizure In 2020 Amid Questions Over Low Conviction Rate

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