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West Bengal: CID enters Bhangar to ‘bailout’ arrested locals

West Bengal: CID enters Bhangar to ‘bailout’ arrested locals

india Updated: Feb 24, 2017 13:13 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Bhangar (South 24-Parganas)
West Bengal,Bhangar agitation,West Bengal government
The Bengal government had slapped sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, generally used against terrorists, against Bhangar land agitators.(Live Mint File Photo)

Three CID officers and Trinamool Congress leader Kaiser Ahmed entered Bhangar, where villagers are protesting a proposed power grid, in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district on Thursday to help a Class 12 student in getting bail.

This comes at a time when the agency’s special task force is on a look out for Alik Chakraborty, a leader of a small Maoist outfit and the face of movement in the village against a power grid.

On January 17, police arrested Abdulla Bin Kasem a few hours before the area turned volatile following the death of two villagers who succumbed to injuries caused by bullets fired by people yet to be identified. A student of Polerhat high school, 18-year-old Kasem was charged with attacking the police and has been in jail since then.

Kasem is supposed to appear for his Class 12 board exams next month.

“On Wednesday, his bail petition was rejected, as the FIR had him named as Abdulla Molla. We have to approach the court on Monday again, with evidence to prove the two are the same,” Abul Kalam Mollah, his elder brother, told Hindustan Times.

While in most such cases it becomes the duty of the family of the arrested person to establish the identity before a court, in this case, CID officers paid a visit and took statements of witnesses certifying Abdulla Mollah and Abdulla Bin Kasem as the same person.

The three CID officers and Kaiser Ahmed, a Trinamool Congress member of South 24Parganas zila parishad, assured villagers that the police will also help eight other villagers in getting bail.

“Please go through the FIR carefully and see if the arrested persons are properly named and prepare the bail application accordingly, with supporting documents,” a CID officer advised the gathering of about 50 villagers.

The friendly approach of the CID officers stood in sharp contrast of the threats issued by Kolkata mayor and state environment minister Sovan Chatterjee a few days ago. “Those who are sheltering the Naxalite be cautious. Do it at your own risk. We will not be able to save them,” Chatterjee said.

By ‘Naxalite’, he was evidently referring to Chakraborty, a politburo member of CPI(ML)(Red Star) who is also the spokesperson of the Jiban, Jibika, Poribesh O Bastutantra Raksha Committee that is spearheading the movement.

While the CID arrested two other senior leaders of the Maoist outfit – Pradip Singh Thakur and Sharmistha Chowdhury – and booked them under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Chakraborty has been evading them over the past one month, even though he is believed to be hiding in Bhangar villages.

Talking to HT on Thursday, most of the residents of Khamar Ait, Machhibhanga, Notun Air, Padmapukur and Tona villages spoke highly of Chakraborty but maintained that they know nothing about his whereabouts.

At a time when Trinamool leaders, mostly the followers of former MLA Arabul Islam and current MLA Abdur Rejjak Mollah, are finding it difficult to enter the villages and the Trinamool Congress office at Dhibdhiba remains shut for more than a month, Ahmed is trying to score brownie points by opening direct channels of communication between the agitators and the government, minus the Maoist leaders.

“I’ve no idea whether the CID is trying to arrest Chakraborty. I accompanied them today because they came here to assist in bailing out a school student,” Ahmed, the Trinamool leader entrusted with building rapport with the agitators, told HT.

Ahmed belongs to the group opposed to local Trinamool strongman Arabul Islam, whom most of the villagers hold responsible for the trouble. Villagers are agitating against the setting up of a power grid that they fear would harm the local environment.

“We stick to our demand. The power grid has to be withdrawn. The chief minister said the project will be stalled if the villagers did not want it. We fail to understand why she is failing to get the message that we do not want it here?” septuagenarian Sk Mansoor Alam of Khamar Ait asked.

“The government won’t able to crush the movement by arresting the Naxalite leaders,” he added.

Over the past one month, several political organisations, including CPI(M), Congress, small Maoist outfits and human rights organisations have paid several visits to Bhangar to express solidarity with the villagers.

During one such event earlier this week, fugitive leader Chakraborty made a cameo appearance, gave a speech on the dais where CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty was present and disappeared.

First Published: Feb 24, 2017 13:12 IST