The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Health plea fails, coach sent to jail

Calcutta, Dec. 3: From a luxurious apartment in New Alipore to a dingy cell of Alipore Central Jail.

East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick was produced before a CBI special judge today, who sent him to prison on the charge of accepting a bribe in his official capacity as central excise superintendent (evasion).

Bhowmick was yesterday caught taking Rs 1.5 lakh from a businessman after allegedly promising him a refund on his excise duty at a south Calcutta club, where the CBI had laid a trap.

Lawyers Tamal and Ashok Mukherjee tried to convince judge Shankar Nath Das that Bhowmick, who underwent a cardiac surgery about two years ago, needed medical care that was not possible within the confines of prison walls.

'If that is the case, then let the jail hospital doctors examine him and decide whether he is fit enough or should be admitted to a government hospital,' Nath shot back before remanding Bhowmick in judicial custody for a week.

'The investigating agency can question him in prison and we will review the case on December 9 again,' he added.

CBI counsel Sekhar Chakraborty had sought at least 14 days' custody for the coach.

Bhowmick was brought to the special court ' housed in the Survey Building in Alipore ' in a white Ambassador around 11.45 am and was whisked away into the courtroom, flanked by three CBI officers. Wearing an off-white T-shirt and dark trousers, the coach did not utter a word, but looked flustered.

'Subhasda, amra apnar shonge achhi (We are with you),' chanted a group of supporters. 'Chor chor, Subhas eta tui ki korli (Thief, thief, what have you done)' roared back another, waving black flags.

Inside the court, too, Bhowmick watched in silence as his lawyers tried to prove how the CBI had framed him by cooking up the case. 'But sir, he was caught red handed and we have witnesses,' the CBI counsel argued, prompting Bhowmick to mutter 'I am innocent'.

With enough evidence in the CBI's hands, the judge did not take much time to deliver his ruling. Around 1.45 pm, Bhowmick ' who has taken East Bengal to many victories ' was led out of the court to the sea of black flags.

Bhowmick rushed inside the waiting Ambassador, which took him to jail.

CBI sleuths spent the day conducting raids and unearthing details of Bhowmick's alleged disproportionate assets. 'We have been keeping tabs on his activities, but we can only intervene on the basis of a complaint,' a CBI spokesman said.

CBI officers said they were examining if anyone else in the central excise department was aware of the coach's activities.

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