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Surrender, 16 years on

Calcutta, Nov. 1: After being a fugitive from justice for 16 years, Narayan Biswas, a member of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee ministry, will surrender tomorrow.

As scripted by the CPM leadership, Biswas, who resigned yesterday as minister, will give himself up at the sub-judicial magistrate’s court at Balurghat to help execute the arrest warrant pending against him since 1989.

The decision was taken at today’s meeting of the CPM’s South Dinajpur district committee.

The party’s newly appointed South Dinajpur secretary, Minati Ghosh, who has replaced Manabesh Chowdhury, was present all through the meet. Chowdhury, one of the co-accused with Biswas in a case of arson and looting at Gangarampur in 1989, has already surrendered.

“I will surrender tomorrow, as decided by the leadership,” Biswas, also the MLA from Gangarampur, said over phone from Balurghat. “This will put an end to cooked-up stories about me.”

Legal experts said Biswas, who has already moved an anticipatory bail application before Calcutta High Court, could be imprisoned by the district judge. “The district judge has the liberty to send Biswas to jail, though his bail petition is pending,” said senior advocate and mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.

CPM functionaries in Balurghat said a procession would be taken out tomorrow with Biswas at its head to march to the Balurghat court. The marchers will wear black badges as a mark of protest.

They also observed a “protest day” today in Balurghat and Gangarampur towns condemning the move to “frame” Biswas. Later, a public rally was organised at Gangarampur where Biswas spoke.

“Don’t lose heart if I am sent to jail. Instead, carry on your struggle against those who have conspired to tarnish my image and that of the party,” he said amid cheers.

The Opposition scoffed at the decision. “It’s funny the CPM is going to march to the court tomorrow in a procession along with Biswas. It’s a pity that the CPM is backing a wanted man,” said Trinamul spokesman Pankaj Banerjee.

PCC working president Pradip Bhattacharya said the CPM, caught on the wrong foot, was desperate to refurbish its image.

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