Police, Army mum over Fort William tunnel

Police, Army mum over Fort William tunnel

Seventy-two hours had passed, but the Kolkata Police seem far from cracking the case of the mysterious tunnel discovered near Fort William, headquarters of the Indian Army’s Eastern Command.

While officials looking into the case are keeping matters close to their chest, the Army, which is running its own investigations, is also maintaining silence.The city police on Friday discovered a 12 ft long and 4 ft wide tunnel off Red Road, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Kolkata. It also passes through Fort William, a high security zone.

Though the police apprehended five people possessing copper wire and steel plates, senior officials dismissed them as drug addicts trying to sustain their substance abuse.

Although both the police and the defence ministry spokespersons in Kolkata have tried to downplay the incident, the unusual silence over the issue prompts suspicions that there is more under the surface than a harmless tunnel.

A senior official on Friday compared the incident with the discovery of a large tunnel in Kashmir which was used to transport people across the border from Pakistan.
Officials agreed off the record that the incident in Kolkata was indeed a matter of concern although they did not have anything new to offer.

“The tunnel outside Fort William is definitely a matter of concern. If not for a chance discovery those digging the tunnel would have carried on with their work in silence and dug under the road into the Army HQ, leading to serious breaches,” said an official, agreeing that there was a massive oversight since the tunnel did not attract attention of the civil or Army authorities though it must have taken a few days to dig it.

“Even if we think that the civic authorities are lackadaisical, it must have come to the attention of our personnel who guard the gates of Fort William round-the-clock. They should have noticed any suspicious activities right on the other side of its walls,” a senior Army official admitted.

Army sources said the military intelligence is handling the investigations and it may not share information with the civil police regularly.

 Officials pointed out that the trial of the five men arrested would be handled by the civil police and through civil courts since the Army has no jurisdiction over it.

“Army intelligence is running its own probe. If anyone is found guilty of subversion, the civil administration would be notified so it can carry on with the necessary legal steps. Till then nothing much is likely to be shared with Kolkata Police,” an official said.

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