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Police Grab Dutt In Swamp

Police Grab Dutt In Swamp
This is the swamp area where recaptured escapee, Deshwar Kishore Dutt (inset) was found by the joint Police and Fiji Corrections search team. Photo: Police Media
January 05
11:57 2018

The successful recapture and detention of escapee Deshwar Kishore Dutt has brought a sense of relief to the Fiji Police Force top brass.

In his desperate attempt to evade Police Dutt lay almost naked, covered in stinking swamp mud all night, waiting for a Police search team of about 120 officers to leave the area.

The area was a thick mangrove swamp at Vuda, in Lautoka and even the stench of mud failed to ruffle this convict while some distance away in a cane field was his mode of transport for escape – a stolen four-wheel drive with a stolen Ministry of Agriculture number plate.

Police Chief of Operations, ACP Rusiate Tudravu said Dutt’s successful recapture had been an occasion of relief to the force.

“The Commissioner (Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho) has thanked the team in the West that has shown excellent work,” he said.

“We have got him and there are processes and systems that we have to follow, but it is likely he will appear in court next week.”

Criminals step up act

ACP Tudravu said the way Dutt operated highlighted how such criminals have stepped up their level of evading Police when on the run.

ACP Tudravu was in Lautoka to personally thank the Divisional Police Commander West, Acting Senior Superintendent of Police Abdul Khan and Police officers from Lautoka, Nadi and border control as well as Fiji Corrections Services (FCS) personnel.

Police warn of harbouring escapees

ACP Tudravu said Dutt’s arrest should send out a strong signal to members of the public that harbouring escapees or assisting them in any way would get you arrested.

Dutt’s wife, Shiwani Vikash Sami, and his lawyer Adi Litia Vateitei, have appeared in court for allegedly helping Dutt escape from lawful custody in Nadi last year.

A pundit, Yogesh Prasad, and one Abinesh Singh also appeared in court charged with allegedly harbouring Dutt while two other men aged 18 and 23 years were arrested on January 2 after Police received information that they had been allegedly harbouring Dutt at a house in Vuda.

“There are about 10 people in Dutt’s network of helpers and we will get all of them.”

Dutt was arrested by a taskforce team in Vuda, Lautoka, on January 3 after being pursued all through the evening and night by the team of officers. The search had taken 19 days and cost the force over $20,000.

Dutt was serving a 15-year jail term for a number of offences and escaped from the Nadi Courthouse after being charged over a robbery offence.

A Fiji Corrections officer was charged and appeared in court over the alleged incident.

The core of the recapture team, or referred to as the ‘dedicated team’ was made up of around 25 Police officers including 12 from the Corrections.

ACP Tudravu said Dutt was deported from America and his strength was his driving skills, which was not elaborated on.

After pursuing leads from the time of his escape, Police had mounted a 24/7 search for Dutt. A brief account was given without dates or time by ACP Tudravu.

Search strategy

Police knew that he was operating between Nadi and Lautoka and established that Dutt’s main mode of transport, apart from other vehicles supplied by those who assisted him, was a twin cab with Government number plates.

To flush Dutt out they needed him to be mobile so all Police roadblocks were lifted and the plan worked.

After finding the twin cab in Vuda, Police removed the number plates, but later realised the vehicle could be used by Dutt again so they re-fitted it on because they had not located him yet.

Police waited and sure enough, Dutt came out of hiding and used the vehicle not knowing he was pursued by Police.

“The strategy proved a success because they had left the vehicle there in Vuda and he visited it,” ACP Tudravu said.

“There are many lessons to be learnt because Dutt was clever in illegal things. So during the course of the hunt Police intentionally removed the roadblocks for him to move around. This was a success because we knew he was moving from Nadi to Lautoka.”

After pursuing him for some hours, Dutt turned into Vuda Back Road and parked the twin cab vehicle in a cane field. Police located the vehicle and pin pointed him in a dense patch of mangroves and swamp. Since it was getting dark, Police beefed up their numbers to around 120 and surrounded the swamp area.

SSP Khan said they were briefed by Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho and ordered not to leave the area until sunrise.

ACP Tudravu said when it was bright enough on the morning of January 3, Police tightened the net around the swamp and came across Dutt’s trousers, shoes, watch and Tee-shirt. Police then followed a set of footprints from where the clothes were into the muddy area of the swamp.

“Imagine he had laid there covered in all this smelly mud all night in just his briefs – it shows the character of the person,” ACP Tudravu said.

“He had waited in that mud all night thinking the Police would leave in the morning. As Police followed the footprints, they noticed Dutt’s knee sticking out of the mud. He was then arrested.

Police work

ACP Tudravu said people should stop thinking that the force was not up to par with the hands of such criminals.

“Don’t think that we are far behind because we have made some good arrests lately,” he said.

This included the three Bulgarians who were serving jail terms for the ATM card scam in Lautoka and Nadi.

Director Criminal Investigation Department Semisi Bokadi was also in Lautoka yesterday to guide the processing of Dutt’s charges and to see that the system investigation programmes were in place.

“Five people have already been charged and there are a few others who helped him, by either having him at their homes, or assisting him in the robbery, the provision of vehicles and the selling of stolen items,” Mr Bokadi said.

“They have all been identified and are in the process of being arrested, charged and taken to court. What the search team did was cut off all his leads from outside and zeroed in on him and we are thankful that it turned out well.

“The warning is clear. Those harbouring prisoners will be dealt with.

“I think the action that has been taken with the arrest and court appearance of those allegedly involved shows that we are sending a warning signal to members of the public”

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedback:  charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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