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Why can't police arrest a minister who dares them to do so'
Narayan Biswas

Who is Narayan Biswas'

He is the minister of state for cottage and small-scale industries and a first-time CPM MLA elected in 2001 from Gangarampur in South Dinajpur.

Biswas was given independent charge of the department after the cabinet minister for cottage and small-scale industries, Bansagopal Chowdhury, resigned following his election to the Lok Sabha from Asansol early this month.

What are the charges against him'

He has been accused of being part of a gang that set 22 Congress supporters' houses ablaze at Ratanpur village in Gangarampur of erstwhile West Dinajpur on March 27, 1988.

An FIR was filed the next day against 89 people, including Biswas, then a CPM district committee member.

A district judge rejected his anticipatory bail plea on May 31, 1988. An arrest warrant was issued on June 16, 1989, but Biswas did not appear in court and the case remained pending.

A chargesheet against him was filed before the Balurghat subdivisional judicial magistrate on October 6, 1989.

What happened after that'

After a gap of 16 years, in 2005, Tamal Ghosh, a law clerk, enquired about the status of the case in the subdivisional judicial magistrate's court.

The court said the case could not be heard in the absence of the minister.

The minister then moved the district judge's court praying for anticipatory bail.

When the court rejected it, he filed an anticipatory bail prayer in Calcutta High Court earlier this month.

The division bench sent the appeal to the chief justice to reassign it to an 'appropriate bench'.

So, where does the case stand now'

The case will be heard again after the high court reopens after the Puja holidays in November.

Can he be arrested now'

Yes

Then why is he not being arrested'

The people who should know claim they do not. Home secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy says he cannot say why the minister is not being picked up.

He confirmed that a list of 60,000-70,000 people 'absconding' for more than six months has been compiled and it contains Biswas's name.

Director-general of police S.C. Avasthy, whose room is a few steps away from Biswas's room at Writers' Buildings, says he knows nothing about the case. 'My junior officers might know about it' I have no idea.'

What does Biswas have to say'

On Friday, when he last went to Writers', he said: 'I am not going to be held responsible for what the police are supposed to do. I cannot say why I am not being arrested.'

That day, he passed by the police chief's office at least twice ' once while entering office and then while leaving.

Where is he now'

That's not very clear. On Tuesday, his office staff members at Writers' said he was in his district.

However, he was not available in his South Dinajpur home and The Telegraph was told that he was in Calcutta.

But he was not there at his Minto Park Housing Estate residence either. His mobile phone was switched off.

What is his party saying'

State CPM secretary Anil Biswas said the party would speak only after the high court gives its verdict.

However, the CPM chief whip in the Assembly, Rabin Deb, who was at Writers' for an all-party meeting on Tuesday, said: 'We want action to be taken against anyone in whose name a non-bailable warrant has been issued, irrespective of which party the person belongs to.'

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