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Minister ‘clean chit’ for arrested Bangla robber

The police report says he is a Bangladeshi national, a resident of Bastuhara colony, in the Khashpur police station area of Khulna district, and the kingpin of a gang of robbers.

The minister’s certificate says he is an Indian national, a permanent resident of Canning in South 24-Parganas district, and bears good moral character.

Habibur Rehman, suspected to be a Bangladeshi national, was arrested on robbery charges by officers of Entally police station. But the 28-year-old gave a curious twist to the case by producing before the magistrate at Sealdah court, a residential-cum-character certificate, allegedly given to him by Abdur Rezzak Mollah, minister of land and land reforms and MLA from Canning.

Additional chief judicial magistrate in-charge Durga Khaitan Das, on Monday, directed the officer investigating the case to verify the certificate and submit a report on September 15. She, however, remanded Rehman in judicial custody till then.

According to the report submitted in court, Rehman, on the run after committing a robbery at a motor-parts shop on DC Dey Road, was picked up from Sealdah station on July 14. A dagger was found on him.

Rehman, along with three associates, had stormed the shop of Shyamal Banerjee but fled after the shop-owner resisted the goons. Cops later traced Rehman to a Canning-bound local. Rehman was also booked under the Foreigner’s Act as he failed to produce a single document to prove his nationality. Preliminary investigation revealed that Rehman would mastermind hit-and-rob gang operations in Calcutta from a hamlet in Khulna.

But Rehman’s lawyer S. Muthia brandished a certificate on MLA Mollah’s letterhead, allegedly signed by him on July 13, stating: “Habibur Rehman, son of Fazlur Rehman, resides in the Canning police station area of South 24-Parganas district. He is a permanent resident of the above address and I, personally, know him for many years. He comes from a respectable family and bears good moral character.”

Minister Mollah, when contacted late on Monday, said: “Since I live in Calcutta, I have left a number of my letterpads with three party offices in my constituency to ensure that my absence does not hinder official activity. The certificate that you are referring to might have been issued by one of the committees. If the police come to verify the authenticity of the certificate, I will check how such a note was issued without my knowledge.”

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