The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM leaders held for twin bus loots

Ainsmali (Nadia), Feb. 7: The orgy of looting and molestation of women passengers of two buses returning from wedding receptions here on Wednesday night opened a can of worms today with the arrest of a CPM member and the former chief of a village panchayat.

Police identified zonal CPM member of Aranghata Subal Bagchi and former pradhan Saidul Karigar, also a CPM member, as the main accused.

Alimuddin Street maintained a studied silence. At Writers’ Buildings, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee described the incidents as “unfortunate”. The government is waiting for a report from the police officers visiting the site, he added.

Cautious not to disturb the balance of power in the local CPM, Hanskhali MLA and refugee rehabilitation minister Nayan Sarkar confined his reaction to a routine statement. “Steps would be taken against the two if their involvement is proved.”

Villagers today gheraoed an educational institution near the scene of the crimes, pelted stones and ripped off windows. The dacoits had allegedly dragged some of the women to the school and tortured them. The men were asked to climb on to the roofs of the buses and confined there at gunpoint.

The gang of 30 first waylaid a bus coming from a marriage reception in Birnagar and on its way to Bagda in North 24-Parganas around 11:30 pm on Wednesday. They then took on a Ranaghat-bound bus coming from Eduli in the Dhantola police station area around 1 am on Thursday.

The looting and torture continued till three in the morning — the fate of both sets of passengers was the same.

Samiran Kundu, who was in the second bus, said yesterday: “They raped my wife and others in front of us.”

The driver of Kundu’s bus, Samir Ghosh, recognised some of the looters, who were from Chakdaha. He was shot dead.

In a series of raids on the Dhantola police station area last night, the police picked up Bagchi and Karigar. Most of the looted ornaments and cash were recovered from Saidul’s house. Ten others were arrested. About 40 were detained for questioning.

Bagchi said he was being framed.

Police sources said he had an intense rivalry with Sanath Dhali, the CPM’s local committee secretary in Panikhali. One of the buses was returning from Dhali’s daughter’s wedding.

“Bagchi recruited Saidul to put together a gang and loot the bus,” said Nadia superintendent of police B.B. Chakraborty,

In Calcutta, the Trinamul Congress and the BJP demanded Bhattacharjee’s resignation.

The SUCI held demonstrations in front of the police superintendent’s office at Krishnagar.

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