Murshidabad, Aug. 20: A schoolteacher was caught with 330g of morphine in his motorcycle’s toolbox here today.
Tushar Chatterjee, a chemistry teacher for 18 years, was stopped on his way to Singhi High School and searched.
Directorate of revenue intelligence and BSF officers, who swooped down on Chatterjee, said they were acting on a tip-off that the teacher was carrying narcotics.
The morphine was in plastic packets wrapped in old newspapers and concealed under a bundle of schoolbooks.
Chatterjee, also the district secretary of the West Bengal Socialist Party, was being questioned in the directorate’s Behrampore office till late night.
“We were waiting for him at Pirtala village as we knew he took that route to the school every day. We found the brown powder in the toolbox of his two-wheeler. By the look of it, the powder could have been heroin, morphine or brown sugar,” said H.C. Upadhyay, the BSF deputy inspector-general in the Behrampore sector.
Test reports confirmed in the evening that it was morphine.
The directorate declined comment.
Morphine, from which heroin is derived, gets its name from Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. A highly addictive narcotic, it is used as a painkiller. Doctors can prescribe morphine but have to mention their registration number on the prescription.
Chatterjee’s offence is non-bailable and can lead to 20 years in jail.
A person caught with less than 5g of morphine can obtain bail, but can also be imprisoned for six months. Carrying 5 to 250g of morphine is a non-bailable offence and can lead to 10 years in jail.
The arrest has triggered a shockwave.
Murshidabad district magistrate Subir Bhadra said he had asked the inspector of schools to conduct an inquiry and submit a report.
The headmaster of Singhi High School, Samsul Haque, said all the teachers were stunned by the development.
“Tushar has been teaching here for the past 18 years and was known to be a man of principles. We are shocked. He may have fallen prey to some conspiracy,” Haque said.
Fisheries minister Kiranmoy Nanda, the chief of Chatterjee’s party, also said that the teacher was being framed. “He (Chatterjee) is an honest man. We refuse to believe that he was carrying drugs,” Nanda said.
The students were not sure about how to react to their teacher’s arrest.
If Class XII student Shounak Barman said Chatterjee should not ever be allowed to return to school, classmate Sujoy Mondal said: “He was an excellent teacher. We don’t know whether he has become a victim of political conspiracy. I respect him highly as a teacher.”
Raman Biswas of Class IX nodded in agreement.