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Party shields loyal police

Calcutta, Oct. 12: The CPM has apparently changed its strategy and tied Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s hands on action against officers involved in the Rizwanur Rahman case despite mounting pressure from some of its own leaders.

According to CPM sources, while the party is upset at the hostile public reaction to the involvement of police officers, it is also careful not to alienate officers known to be close to the party. Deferring action against the police officers has come in handy for the party. The judicial commission and the case in the high court have given the CPM the excuse it wanted, a source said.

Contrary to common perception, it is not police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee whom the party is particularly keen to protect. CPM sources said the officer whose fate the party is more concerned with is deputy commissioner (headquarters) Gyanwant Singh. He may have come close to the party during his tenure as Murshidabad’s superintendent of police, but the bond has become stronger over the years, a CPM leader said.

A state committee member said the dilemma for the party is that it cannot be seen as protecting Singh while penalising others. “Of all the officers, Singh is known to have personally handled the Rizwanur case at the behest of Priyanka’s father Ashok Todi. So, if action cannot be taken against Singh, steps can’t be taken against other officers, too.”

Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim has stuck to his demand that the officers be removed, but added that the action has to be put on hold once a judicial inquiry has been announced. “The allegations against the officers are serious and they have no business to stay there. But one has to go by the Constitution and the law. All action has to be kept suspended during a judicial probe.’’

The chief minister is known to have maintained that action should be taken against all the officers found guilty. CPM state secretary Biman Bose has also made a similar commitment in public.

According to a Calcutta district committee member of the party, the statements were altruistic but political compulsions complicated the chief minister’s initial plan.

MP Mohammad Salim, who was vociferous in demanding action against the offi- cers, today said: “When the matter is in court, the government should take legal advice and refrain from any action that can hamper the outcome of the case. The thinking in the party has changed because of that,” Salim said.

The shift in strategy showed in the rally on Rizwanur’s death yesterday. Although several leaders visited his house over the past three weeks, this was the first time they took to the streets. “The aim was to save the party and the government from public anger, especially since no action has been taken against any of the police officers,” a leader said.

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