| Bangshibadan Barman on his way to the court lockup. Picture by Himangshu Ranjan Deb
Cooch Behar, May 25: The secretary of the Greater Cooch Behar People's Association, Bangshibadan Barman, today surrendered before the chief judicial magistrate here.
Amid claims that he was innocent and had been implicated in false cases, Bangshibadan was remanded in judicial custody till May 31. With his surrender, police and the district administration are breathing easy.
Bangshibadan was among the 47 accused in connection with the September-20 incident last year in which five persons were killed after violence marred an indefinite hunger-strike called by the association demanding a separate state of Greater Cooch Behar.
Except for Bangshibadan, Punyeswar Roy and Jyotish Sarkar who is now the leader of the rival faction, all the others had been arrested earlier in connection with the lynching of a police officer and two constables. They were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for murder, attempt to murder, destruction of government property and unlawful assembly of people at a place.
Though he was readily available to the media at all times, the police had been hunting hard for the 'elusive Bangshibdan' all these days.
Today, the association secretary, along with other front-ranking leaders of his outfit like Asutosh Barma, Bhabesh Barman and Phanindranath Barman, arrived at the court premises in a Maruti Omni. It was around 10.40 am and a crowd of 200 raised slogans in support of his innocence. This continued till late in the afternoon when the tearful leader boarded a police van and was taken to jail.
On arrival, the chief judicial magistrate, Chapal Kumar Panda, had ordered the police to send Bangshibadan to the court lock-up where he had to wait for three-and-a-half hours till his case came up for hearing after 2 pm.
Earlier in the day, Bangshibadan had visited the residence of his lawyer, Shibendranath Roy. There he said: 'I have been implicated in false cases. That I am innocent will be proven in court. I gave myself up to honour the court's directive that I be arrested. Phanindranath Barman will do the secretary's job while I am in jail.'
There are four separate cases against the association secretary. While the Criminal Investigation Department is investigating three of them, the Cooch Behar police are probing one. The chief judicial magistrate rejected appeals for bail in all the cases.
'We are the descendants of brave warriors and kings and our determination to get recognition as a 'C' category state was further strengthened today,' said association assistant secretary Phanindranath Barman.
Security was stepped up throughout the district following Bangshibadan's surrender.
District police superintendent Jagmohan said the police were extra vigilant in order to arrest the last two persons named in the FIR ' Jyotish and Punyeshwar
District CPM secretary Chandi Pal said Bangshibadan's movement had been scuttled the moment the association voted for the Trinamul Congress in the Assembly polls. 'The people are not going to side with a violent and divisive movement. That is all I have to say,' Pal said.