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‘Victims’ inside party camp, dacoits outside

Burdwan, June 3: Four Trinamul Congress supporters who fled their homes in Chhoto Angaria more than two years ago and took shelter in a camp run by the party on the Maidan in Calcutta are now in police custody, after a string of dacoities.

Mosarraf Khan, Samsul Mondol, Seher Ali Khan and Mukuleswar Mullick were arrested yesterday from Durgachak in East Midnapore for allegedly looting more than Rs 7 lakh from a branch of the Burdwan State Co-operative Bank. The Pahalanpur branch of the bank was looted on April 22.

The four men were brought here last night.

“We are not concerned about their political affiliations, we will treat them like we treat other criminals. We will charge them for looting banks,” said district superintendent of police B.. Ramesh.

Mosarraf was the leader of the gang, which robbed 13 banks in the past two years. “We have recovered a part of the loot and arms from them,” said Ramesh.

The district police chief let the arrested four speak to the media. Sitting in Ramesh’s office, the quartet spoke about their travails since they were forced to flee their village in the Garbeta area of West Midnapore before the Assembly election in 2001.

“We were Trinamul workers in Chhoto Angaria. After the encounter at Bakhtar Mondol’s house there, our leader, Rafiq, sent us off to Garbeta. Later, we stayed at a camp organised by the party in Calcutta,” Mosarraf said.

Chhoto Angaria shot into public eye when about a dozen people were said to have been killed by alleged CPM cadre who torched Bakhtar’s house in the village on January 3, 2001. Bakhtar, too, was in the Maidan camp later.

The arrested men alleged that even in Garbeta the cadre were after them and Rafiq advised them to go to Calcutta and stay in leader Madan Mitra’s “camp” for uprooted Trinamul workers near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue on the Maidan.

“We were at the camp for about six months where we met Mamata Banerjee several times. One day, Madanda told us to leave as he had no more resources to sustain us. Even Didi (Mamata) said the same. They told us to fend for ourselves as we would not be able to return to our village any longer,” the “gang leader” said.

“We do not know where our wives and children are. We are scared of the CPM cadre in Chhoto Angaria,” said Samsul. “They raped my sister in front of me and I could not protest. I have been on the run for being a Trinamul worker,” said Seher.

“Didi could not take care of us despite assurances, Madanda, too, sent us packing without any money. So, I gathered my associates and ever since, we have turned to crime for a living, hiding in areas around Haldia and Durgachak,” confessed Mosarraf.

Mitra disowned the arrested men. “What will I do' I am in Delhi and cannot speak at length. They were in the camp, how will I know what they have turned into after leaving it'” Mitra said, and hung up.

Trinamul leader in Hooghly Tapan Dasgupta, who ran camps in Chinsurah for “displaced” party workers, confirmed that the four men were in the Calcutta camp. “If someone from my camp turns a dacoit, he should be punished,” Dasgupta said.

“The camp I ran comprised families who were on the run from villages in Goghat and Khanakul in Hooghly, Mosarraf and the others were in Mitra’s Maidan camp,” he added.

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