Sudesna Sengupta’s life is nothing short of an exciting thriller, apt for a biopic.
From busting a syndicate of 10 companies involved in the illegal import of ready garments to curbing the unlawful export of Red Sanders and Indian star Tortoises and seizing 335 kg of ganja, she has done it all!
This firebrand officer from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence also led a team that arrested a notorious smuggler wanted in 40 cases, who had successfully evaded the police for over six years.
The first step for her team was to gather intel (information). They then decided to kickstart the operation at 1 a.m. in hired vehicles, because they were aware the smuggler’s henchmen were in every nook and corner of Maslandapur, West Bengal.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, the gutsy officer recalls the story of how despite her team’s suggestions to stay back, she decided to lead the raid from the front.
“His hideout had multiple exits. At 4:30 a.m. we reached an opening where we had to enter from an iron grill below the door. Barely dogs could pass through it. I could not have missed this chance. I went inside with my partner (IO) Sudeb Sarkar and arrested the accused. Our every raid is a plot for a movie,” she told the publication.
But everything is not as rosy as you would see it on the silver screen. Despite facing several death threats, as well as warnings to hurt her family, especially her two children, the brave officer stood undeterred.
“I have faced direct threats like, ‘If I am out of custody even God can’t save you!’ After release from judicial custody, people are required to report to DRI and have to deal with intelligence officers. In one of the cases of smuggling from Myanmar, the accused whispered to me, ‘your boy is in this school…your husband works here…you live in this area’…my past dating back to 10 years…so sometimes it’s very disturbing. But, nowadays I don’t care! Still, when family comes into picture…it’s surely challenging!” she says.
She remembers how at the beginning of her service, she would only be summoned for assignments which involved female accused. But it was a year before she could prove herself. Today, even if the clock strikes twelve, and her phone rings, summoning her for a raid, the fiery officer is set to take it on.
But a few manual challenges continue to persist, “Especially, when an equivalent amount of strength and energy is required like a male. For example, leading an operation to examine a 40-ft container at Kolkata port that takes 20-36 hours, working with labourers and taking all recordings is very excruciating. Another challenge is when your kids are ill, and you have to report to duty,” she told HT.
Originally from the city of joy, Kolkata, she completed her BSc in Geography from Calcutta University and a PG in Human Rights from IIHR, New Delhi. She joined the Central Excise and Customs, now GST, as an Inspector in 2010 and works as an Intelligence Officer in the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).
The DRI operates to crack smuggling or trafficking activities (of contraband goods or narcotics), illegal under-invoicing and any anti-national economic rackets across the length and breadth of the country.
Some of her key cases involve a UP railway syndicate which runs 8-10 fraud companies. It is infamous for importing ready-made garments from China by declaring the goods undervalued, thus evading customs duty.
As part of another raid, the officer’s team seized 12 kg of smuggled gold biscuits of foreign origin from a syndicate of Varanasi. Although the UP-based mastermind behind the case had fled, he was later nabbed in Guwahati.
She was also a part of the DRI team that cracked down on 13 cases of smuggled goods worth ₹193 crore which was seized at the Kolkata airport.
We salute officers like Sudesna Sengupta who put the country first!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)