The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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MP friend and driver in murder net

Behrampore, July 25: Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury's friend and driver were arrested late last night in connection with the murder of a hotel owner and his son hours earlier.

Five people, who entered Nilufa Hotel when it was about to shut down around 10.45, shot dead Hanif Sheikh, 48, and Laltoo after they had fini-shed their dinner of mutton curry and bread.

Hanif's younger son Suroj fled through the backdoor as a duo from the five brandished their revolvers and took aim across the cash counter.

Police said Hanif and Laltoo had shifted allegiance to the CPM a few months ago.

Four persons were picked up on the basis of an FIR lodged by Suroj.

'During interrogation, Tapan Bose and Gopal Sinha identified themselves as the local MP's friend and driver,' Murshidabad additional superintendent of police Kollol Ganai said this morning.

A six-chamber revolver and 28 live cartridges were found on Bose, who has been remanded in police custody till August 2. The rest have been sent to jail for a fortnight.

Ganai said the police are probing whether the murders ' near the sadar hospital, 200 km from Calcutta 'were 'a result of political rivalry'.

Congress supporters belonging to the anti-Chowdhury camp demonstrated on the court premises demanding the arrest of the 'brain' behind the murders.

The MP, also the district Congress president, admitted before leaving for Delhi for the monsoon session of Parliament, that Bose and Sinha were 'known' to him. 'The law should take its own course. I want the police to probe the case impartially so that the CPM cannot spread canards against me,' he added.

State Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya said the leader could not be blamed if his driver and friend were involved in a murder. 'Is it possible for an MP to know what his driver or friend are doing' he asked.

He also sniffed a CPM plot to 'malign the Congress'.

Suroj said: 'The five looked like ordinary customers till a gang of four came on motorcycles around 11.15 pm and hurled bombs outside the hotel. Before I realised anything else, two of the five youths in the hotel shot at my father and elder brother from point blank range. I managed to flee through the back door.' The five, he added, had been chatting among themselves till the blasts.

The three of them ' his father, brother and himself ' were inducted into the CPM youth wing, Democratic Youth Federation of India, last month, Suroj said.

Though it was not known whether the move was any way linked to the murders, the district administration replaced the two security guards assigned to Chowdhury.

With the MP having left for the capital, his wife refused to accept them.

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