The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Handcuff heat to humour poll papa

Calcutta, Feb. 14: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today admitted that he never intended to execute arrest warrants against political leaders ' of the ruling party or the Opposition ' but hardly had a choice given the poll panel's pressure.

'Our government did not want to act on the warrants against political parties ' ruling or Opposition ' but we have to follow EC (Election Commission) directives,' the chief minister said.

That the government is now bent on executing the non-bailable warrants was evident from a meeting chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb called at Writers' Buildings this afternoon.

Home secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy, inspector-general, law and order, Raj Kanojia and chief electoral officer Debasish Sen attended the meeting that discussed the execution of the warrants and the law and order situation in the state.

Senior officials said the commission's instruction to execute all non-bailable warrants has been conveyed to all district superintendents of police and raids are being mounted across Bengal.

Nearly 60,000 such warrants are now awaiting execution.

Kanojia said about 1,400 non-bailable warrants were executed across the state over the past 24 hours ' a bulk of them in industrial areas like Howrah and Durgapur.

These drives are now the priority for the police, he added. 'Every week, new non-bailable warrants are being issued and are adding to the existing list. So we are trying to speed up the whole thing.'

Mamata Banerjee had earlier dared the government to execute a warrant against her. The Barasat court had asked the police to arrest her in connection with a 1994 incident in the North 24-Parganas district headquarters in which a man was killed in police firing. The police did not react.

State CPM secretary Anil Biswas said the government had no intention to arrest the Trinamul Congress chief, apparently to deny her a campaign plank before the polls.

In the Assembly, Bhattacharjee today said without naming Mamata the Barasat incident was much more dangerous than the one for which the CPM's Narayan Biswas had to quit his ministry and surrender in court.

The chief minister is believed to have urged the party to pressure Biswas to resign. The warrant against Biswas, a leader from Balurghat, was pending for 26 years.

'Having learnt about the status of Narayan's case, we asked him to resign. But we didn't do that in your (the Trinamul leaders') case. I don't want to touch you at all. But my only compulsion is the Election Commission,' the chief minister said in the Assembly.

Unhappy with the Bengal government's failure to execute thousands of non-bailable arrest warrants, the Election Commission has summoned senior state officials to Delhi.

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