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Mamata's nephew sent to jail

Akash Banerjee, the nephew of chief minister Mamata Banerjee and his three friends were given one day judicial custody by the Alipore chief judicial magistrate's court today for beating up two cops yesterday on a city street.
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent, Kolkata
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2012 10:52 PM IST

Akash Banerjee, the nephew of chief minister Mamata Banerjee and his three friends were given one day judicial custody by the Alipore chief judicial magistrate's court on Thursday for beating up two cops on Wednesday morning on a city street.

Among the sections slapped on Banerjee and his friends was section 353 of IPC that deals with obstructing a government employee from carrying out his duty.

The four accused -- Akash, his there friends and the driver of the car -- were brought to the court at about 12 noon. All were masked in black hoods.

"It is not fit for section 353, because there is no allegation of traffic police being beaten up. There was an altercation. So the accused should get bail. The police have spiced up the case," said the counsels of Banerjee and his friends Baiswanor Chattopadhyay, Tirthankar Roy and Santanu Datta.

The court has initially ruled Banerjee and others would remain in jail up to March 3, but reduced the term to just one day after their counsels pleaded for a shorter term.

On the other hand, reacting to the incident, West Bengal governor MK Narayanan maintained a delicate balance on the accused Akash Banerjee, clearly disapproving his thrashing of two traffic policemen on Wednesday, while simultaneously lauding the administration for police action against an offence that is both frequent and fails to attract fast action.

"Akash should not have hit the policeman, but this is not the first time that the police was hit and action was delayed," said Narayanan on Thursday, himself a cop for 38 years.

On Wednesday the car occupied by Akash and his two friends was stopped for violating traffic rules as it trespassed into another lane near Vidyasagar setu causing traffic jam.

When a police sergeant asked the car to stop for violating traffic rules, Akash started abusing him, he pushed the sergeant and assaulted him saying he was the chief minister's nephew and that the police were not doing their duty.

Akash was taken to Watganague police station and was then let off and was later arrested under the instruction of the chief minister.

The arrest was made under non-bailable sections of 353 (assault to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty), 341 (wrongfully restraining a person) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of IPC and 122, 127 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

Of the five sections on which they have been charged, section 353 is a cognizable offence carrying a maximum term of two years imprisonment.

Answering why Akash was first let off and then arrested under the instruction of the chief minister Narayanan said, "I have served in the police force for a very long time and can say that the police is always blamed. But what is important is that action has been taken."

During the day at a Calcutta University function, Narayanan, the former National Security Adviser dwelt extensively on the spate of rape incidents in the state, accusing the media of sensetionalising them.

"Media should not sensationalise this issue. Any rape is bad and more stringent action should be taken," said Narayanan.

"Bengal used to be one of the safest places. Outsiders are not responsible for these incidents so it is the duty of all of us to protect our women and children," he added.

In February four incidents of rape was reported all over Bengal.

"Numbers are not an issue here, even a single rape is bad, we need to see that the rapists are caught and action is taken. I along with the chief minister are talking to the police, the floating population is one of the major hurdles in cracking some of the cases," he said.

Narayanan, however, carefully chose his words to avoid comments on the chief minister's claim that the rape in Katwa (Burdwan) was concocted and is an attempt by the CPI(M) to malign the government.

"It is such a situation that I do not think there is a scope of finding fault with A, B or C. The chief minister is determined to do the best for the state. I know her very well; she is deeply concerned. It is very easy to twist and turn her comments," he said.

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