A day after Bhullar and Jassi, on top of Punjab’s most-wanted list, were gunned down by Bengal special task force officers during an encounter at the housing complex on Wednesday, these startling facts tumbled out at as cops from both Bengal and Punjab delved deeper into the case.
The fake Aadhaar and passport on the basis of which the 11-month rent agreement was signed was prepared by Bharat Kumar, a master forger and the gangsters’ aide. Bharat introduced himself as Sumit Kumar and handed over the fake ID proofs to property agent Sushanta Saha on May 23, who mailed it to property owners Akbar Ali and Sabir Ali. The agreement also had an “introducer” — one Anil Dugar with an invalid phone number.
It was Bharat’s arrest on Wednesday at Gwalior that led to the discovery of the rent agreement and fake IDs.
Investigations revealed that it was Bharat who drove Bhullar and Jassi to Kolkata from Punjab after the duo murdered two cops there on May 15. He took the two gangsters to the New Town flat on May 26 and then left. The getaway car — a dark brown Honda Accord — used for the over 1,800-km drive had a Bengal number plate. It was found to be registered with a private firm on GC Avenue but the firm owners claimed they had sold it six years ago.
“Bharat gave us the leads on Bhullar and Jassi and we passed on the information to Bengal Police. Bharat has confessed that he signed the rent agreement and used Sumit Kumar’s documents,” said Bikramjit Singh Brar, DSP, Organised Crime Control Unit, Punjab.
The cops said Bharat and the two gangsters had put up at some hotel on reaching Kolkata. Bharat checked out the Sukhobrishti property on an online portal and contacted property agent Sourav Kumar. “The man called me on May 22 and said he needed the flat on rent urgently. I said it was not possible during the ongoing safety restrictions in the state but he kept insisting. So, I connected him to another broker at Sukhobrishti. I didn’t even know the deal had been struck till the police knocked on my doors on Thursday,” said Sourav.
Property agent Saha, who handles some 100-odd vacant flats at Sukhobrishti, said a man who went by the name Sumit Kumar contacted him on May 22. “He came down to the complex to check the flat that day itself. By next day, he had paid the advance, the deposit as well as the brokerage and handed over all documents while asking me to speed up the process,” Saha said.
The owners of Flat no. 201 in Block B153, brothers Akbar and Sabir Ali, are residents of Entally in central Kolkata. Sabir told TOI that since his wife and brother were suffering from Covid at the time, they couldn’t visit the flat to complete the transaction.
“We signed the documents and sent it to the broker who completed the transaction on our behalf and then submitted it before the local police station and maintenance office. We only received the IDs of Sumit Kumar – a passport and an Aadhar card – over e-mail but never saw him in person. We got the rent and thought Sumit Kumar was residing in our flat. We had no clue that some gangsters had made it their home,” said Sabir, an engineer. The brothers had bought the flat eight years ago and had put it on on rent for the past five years to different tenants.
Property agent Saha said he last saw Sumit Kumar on May 26, when he handed him the rent agreement. “I never checked on the tenant after that and had no clue he had brought in someone else to stay there. It was only after the attack that I came to know about the misdeeds. But I have told police that I am innocent,” he said. Saha was called to identify the bodies after the encounter on Wednesday.
Neighbours said the gangsters had moved in on May 26 evening and would order food online. The phone number they used was the same that Bharat had used to book the flat. It, too, was sourced using a fake identity that of a resident in West Midnapore’s Pingla, said cops.
On Thursday, the investigators recovered multiple packages from the rented flat, but what had them intrigued was one packet bearing the name of an apparel shop in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Later in the evening, a team of forensic officials collected fingerprint samples from the flat and other forensic evidences.
The Bengal STF, which conducted the operation on Wednesday, also lodged a complaint with the Techno City police station in Bidhannagar as the detective department wing of the Bidhannagar Commissionerate also began probing the case. A team of Punjab police is also stationed in the city, to assist the cops with background information on the deceased gangsters.