| Adhir: Cooling heels'
Behrampore, Nov. 3: Local Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury was declared an absconder by the Behrampore court to- day in connection with twin murders in which his wife is also an accused.
The Murshidabad chief judicial magistrate issued a notice this afternoon instructing Chowdhury to surrender in the court by December 5.
Although the court did not order attachment of his property in the event of his failure to turn up by then, legal cir- cles believe that the ground has been prepared for such a move. 'The court may attach Chowdhury's property if he does not surrender by December 5,' a senior lawyer said.
A copy of the notice was pasted on the door of the Behrampore MP's house here this evening. Two others were stuck at the bus stand and on the collectorate club wall.
The chief judicial magistrate had on October 18 issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Chowdhury and his wife Arpita in connection with the murder of a father and son on July 23. In the chargesheet submitted on October 17, the MP and his wife were accused of engineering the murders because the duo had allegedly shifted loyalty to a rival faction of the Congress.
Two members of a gang of five shot dead Hanif Sheikh, 48, and Laltoo after having a bread-mutton curry meal at Nilufa Hotel. Hanif owned the eatery and was about to close shop when the five ordered the meal. His younger brother Suroj fled through the backdoor as the goons brandished revolvers and took aim across the cash counter.
Contacted in Delhi, Chowdhury, also the district Congress president, denied that he was absconding. He had earlier said that unlike former CPM minister Narayan Biswas, who eluded the law for 16 years before giving in on Tuesday, he would never flee police.
'Narayan Biswas roamed free for 16 years with an arrest warrant against him' But I am being declared an absconder after barely a fortnight of its issue,' he said.
'I have repeatedly said that I am not an absconder. I am innocent and so there is no question of surrendering. The police have framed me. I am at my 82 South Avenue residence in Delhi. Let the police come and arrest me,' Chowdhury said.
Like the MP, Biswas, who was charged with arson, had dared the police to arrest him.
Murshidabad superintendent Niraj Kumar Singh said the police are keeping watch on Chowdhury's Behrampore house round the clock. With the murder accused sitting pretty a few thousand miles away, needless to say the police alertness here is meaningless.
'From the day the warrant was issued, the MP did not enter his house once. We have informed the court about it,' Singh said.
Today, no notice was served on Arpita, possibly because she had prayed for bail after her not-to-arrest plea on the ground of ill health was turned down. 'The hearing of the bail petition has been fixed for November 8. This is perhaps why the notice has not been issued to her,' her lawyer Pijush Ghosh said.
Told to comment on the absconding party MP, state Congress general secretary Manas Bhunia said he 'did not know' about today's developments. 'After we collect the details, we will discuss the issue.'
State CPM secretary Anil Biswas said: 'I should not comment on a court order.'
A Congress functionary, however, conceded that the CPM had taken the wind out of the Opposition's sails by forcing Narayan Biswas to give in. 'If Adhir is allowed to abscond, the CPM will make an issue of it before the elections.'