Balurghat, Nov. 2: Narayan Biswas was today snapped up by the long arm of the law and sent to jail after 16 years of dodging an arrest warrant in an arson and loot case.
This makes him the first former minister to be sent to jail in the history of post-Independence Bengal and the first CPM minister in 29 years to have had to bow out under public pressure.
Chief judicial magistrate Anjali Sinha refused him bail and remanded him in judicial custody till November 16 after he gave himself up in a Balurghat court.
The CPM had asked him to step down as minister of state for cottage and small-scale industries and surrender following public outrage at his defiance of the warrant and continuation in office for five years.
“We are the only party in the country to have the courage to ask one of its ministers to resign and surrender, even though the charges against him are not proved in the eyes of law,” said state CPM secretary Anil Biswas, who is believed to have been against the former minister quitting.
“There are about 70 CPM leaders who are facing criminal charges and have not appeared in courts so far. We have asked them to do so,” he said.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, whose tough stand is believed to have forced the party to expose Narayan, said at Writers’ Buildings: “I don’t know anything (about the surrender).”
Asked if his government would pressure the Congress to push its MP Adhir Chowdhury, wanted in two murder cases, to similarly turn himself in, he said: “I don’t know.”
Biswas will be lodged in the spick and span South Dinajpur district jail, which is located in jails minister Biswanath Chowdhury’s constituency.
Inaugurated in 1996, the jail is reputed to serve meals according to norms, including fish and meat every week. Its grounds are believed to be pleasant for morning and evening walks.
Jail superintendent M. Guin, however, said accommodation for Biswas has yet to be fixed. “He is undergoing a check-up at the infirmary,” he said.