‘Worked for MP Kalyan Banerjee’: Held Bengal cop embarrasses Mamata’s TMC
Causing a major embarrassment for the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), Hooghly district police on Tuesday arrested the officer-in-charge of the district intelligence branch in a case related to cut-money posters put up against Serampore MP Kalyan Banerjee, a close associate of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The arrested officer of sub-inspector rank, Samir Sarkar, claimed that he “worked tirelessly” to ensure the MP’s victory during the recent Lok Sabha polls and alleged being framed by the three-time MP. Banerjee is also the TMC’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha.
During the elections, Sarkar served as the officer-in-charge of Jangipara Police Station which is in Banerjee’s constituency.
“Ask Kalyan Banerjee why I have been framed. I worked hard for him during the elections. Perhaps this is how he wanted to reward me,” Sarkar told reporters while he was being taken to court.
Banerjee refused to comment. “It would be improper to comment on an issue that is being investigated,” he said.
The posters, put up on the night of July 29, accused Banerjee of accepting ‘cut money,’ or commission, from beneficiaries of state government’s welfare schemes and also carried some invectives. The posters were noticed in many parts of Serampore and Seoraphuli towns.
No serving police officer in Bengal has faced action on a charge like this in recent history.
Sarkar was booked under Sections 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief), 419 (Cheating by personation) and 120 B (Criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. Of these, 505 is a non-bailable section.
The police earlier arrested the driver of the officer’s personal vehicle and another man who ran errands for him.
Sarkar was detained on Saturday for interrogation and had not been allowed to leave till Monday evening.
“The officer is being interrogated,” said Chandannagar Commissioner of Police Humayun Kabir on Sunday but refused to comment on Monday.
Following a police complaint, scrutiny of security camera footage revealed that the posters were put up by two men moving in an SUV carrying a police sticker on the windshield.
The vehicle was tracked down and its driver, Amiya Khamrui, arrested on July 31. The vehicle was being used by Sarkar on a regular basis.
Sarkar was issued a show-cause notice and asked to reply by August 2. Since he did not respond, the authorities asked him to appear before them on Saturday. When he did not turn up, police detained him.
An officer who was part of the investigation but did not want to be identified, claimed that Sarkar’s driver had confessed to have put up the posters and had revealed that Sarkar and his errand man, Mohammad Mostafa, were inside the SUV when it was being used for putting up posters. Sarkar contested this and urged the police to trace the location of his mobile phone on the night of July 29.
In July, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee mentioned the term ‘cut money’ at a party programme and instructed TMC functionaries to refund commissions taken from people. Soon, posters, demanding return of cut-money, appeared against TMC leaders across the state. In most cases, the ruling party blamed BJP of raising baseless allegations.
“The incident has evidently unnerved TMC. They have realized that BJP is not the only opponent they are fighting. People of Bengal have become its opponent,” said BJP’s state committee member Bhaskar Bhattacharya.