Calcutta, Aug. 18: Jyotirmoyee Sikdar was whisked away from Merlin Park hotel minutes before the police raid on Sunday in which her husband Avtar Singh was arrested for running a sleaze racket, CPM sources said today.
On a tip-off about the raid, Nandadulal Bhattacharya, an influential North 24-Parganas CPM functionary and brother-in-law of transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, rushed to the hotel in Salt Lake and took the party MP away to “save her from shame and scandal”, the sources said.
Minutes later, the police packed off Avtar, four girls and four of their clients to the police station for questioning.
“The idea behind Nandadulal’s last-minute dash to the hotel was to ensure that Jyotirmoyee was not present during the raid so that she could not be directly associated with the scandal,” a district CPM leader said.
“She is a CPM MP and it would have tarnished the party’s image.”
The party sources said “considerable pressure” was brought on the police by a section of the CPM leadership to stop the raid. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee gave the go-ahead and insisted on the arrest of all those running the racket.
“She was often seen at the hotel and it is no surprise that she should be present there Sunday, a holiday,” a CPM supporter close to Sikdar and her husband said.
“I will not comment on that,” Bengal CPM secretary Anil Biswas said, refusing to deny or confirm whether Sikdar was present at the hotel minutes before the raid or whether any party lobby had organised her purported safe passage.
“All I can say is that she is very much in Calcutta,” Biswas said. “Our party has given her some important work to finish in the next few days,” he added.
Avtar, who was admitted to SSKM Hospital last evening after being turned away from RG Kar hospital, today complained of abdominal pain and nausea. Yesterday, he had said he had a nagging “headache”.