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Murder cuffs on Adhir

New Delhi, Nov. 19: Adhir Chowdhury’s 32-day flight from the law ended this morning when a joint team of Bengal and Delhi police strode into his MP’s flat to find the Congress leader enjoying a late breakfast.

The officers had to wait a few more minutes before they could arrest the Behrampore MP ' accused in a double murder back home ' but they didn’t mind.

“He was having his breakfast'. He said, ‘I know there is a warrant but let me change my dress and talk to some people’. He is an honourable MP, so we gave him that time,” said one of the officers from Bengal.

“We had come to arrest both of them ' Chowdhury and his wife Arpita. But we could get only one.” Arpita’s whereabouts are unknown.

The MP hadn’t once stepped into his home in Behrampore after a local court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him and Arpita on October 18 in the murders of a hotel owner, Hanif Sheikh, and his son Laltoo in July. On November 3, the court declared him an absconder.

All this while, Chowdhury continued to live at his official residence ' 82 South Avenue ' in the heart of Delhi’s VIP enclave, openly challenging the police to come and get him there.

Chowdhury, who says he and Arpita have been framed in the case, was brought to Calcutta in an Indian Airlines flight that touched down around 7.05 pm. Fifteen minutes later, he was headed for Behrampore in a police vehicle.

After his 10.15 am arrest, the MP was taken to Delhi’s Chanakyapuri police station, then to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital for a check-up, and finally to a magistrate who gave him a five-day transit remand.

Chowdhury said: “I didn’t want to surrender. I wanted the police to arrest me.”

In Calcutta, asked why the MP hadn’t been arrested earlier, inspector-general of police (law and order) Raj Kanojia replied: “It was the discretion of the police, based on when it was convenient for us to make the move. The local SP (Murshidabad superintendent of police) had to spare officers who could go out of station on the assignment. Also, we had to co-ordinate with Delhi police, which took another three to four days.”

He said the Bengal team was made up of three officers from Murshidabad police.

In Delhi, parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi got the news just as he had ' following yesterday’s shuffle ' officially taken additional charge of I&B. He immediately left to meet his party colleague.

At the police station, the two leaders hugged and stayed huddled together for some time. The minister later said the MP had been “falsely implicated” in the run-up to the 2006 Assembly polls and that the Congress would stand by him.

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