Mausam Noor, Abu Hashem and Sehnaz Quadri: All in the family
Aug. 25: Malda MPs Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury and Mausam Noor today filed an application in Calcutta High Court for anticipatory bail in connection with the case registered against them at Englishbazar police station on Saturday.
The uncle and niece duo have been accused of looting lakhs of rupees from a dargah and beating up police constables posted in front of the mausoleum.
Today, Sehnaz Quadri, one of the mutwalis or caretakers of the mausoleum or dargah appointed by the Wakf Board, filed separate complaints against cousin Mausam with the Malda district magistrate and police chief.
Sehnaz, however, did not name Abu Hashem in the complaints, stressing instead that he had gone to the dargah that day only to pray — a move suspected to isolate Mausam once more in the Kotwali, the Malda residence of the Khan Chowdhurys.
This is not the first time that the family feud has come out in the open. During the Lok Sabha elections, both Abu Hashem and his brother Abu Naser had made their displeasure felt when Mausam had been nominated as the Congress candidate for Malda North queering Naser’s pitch. Abu Hashem, who had been fielded from Malda South, had even refused to campaign for Mausam. Both the uncles had spoken out against Mausam in public.
The bail application moved by the MPs’ lawyer, Shekhar Basu, said the two Lok Sabha members apprehended arrest as Sections 379, 353 and 188 of the IPC under which they had been booked were non-bailable.
These sections deal with theft, assault or use of criminal force to deter officials from discharging duty and disobedience to order promulgated by a public servant.
The bail plea said sub-inspector Jayanta Lodh Chowdhury had lodged a suo motu complaint against the MPs for allegedly arriving at the Peran-e-peer dargah with about 250 to 300 people and forcibly taking away money donated by devotees.
The hearing for the bail plea is likely to be held tomorrow. No arrests can be made during the intervening period of filing the bail plea and the hearing.
The plea also said Mausam’s mother, Ruby Noor, had been the president of the Ainaya Hind Committee that ran the dargah. After her death in July in 2008, Abu Hashem took charge as the new chairman on July 15 this year.
At a meeting of the committee on August 20, it was resolved that the donations would not be kept at the dargah but in a separate bank account. The decision was taken as the money was being looted by Sehnaz and her henchmen, the plea said. Sehnaz, it alleged, was “close to the ruling party”.
Sehnaz, who stays in Calcutta, however, said after coming out of the police superintendent’s office this afternoon: “Dalumama had gone to the dargah to pray on the day of the incident. The donation of the devotees was taken away by Mausam and her elder sister Syeda Noor and their henchmen.
“What they have done is wrong. The dargah is our ancestral property and I am its mutwali. I have lodged a compliant today.”
Malda police chief Satyajit Banerjee said he had received Sehnaz’s complaint and an investigation was on.
“We have arrested four persons in connection with the case. However, Sehnaz Quadri has said Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury was not involved in the incident and the police are also looking into it,” Banerjee said.
District magistrate Sridhar Ghosh said he had asked the land department to submit a report on the status of the dargah under the Wakf laws. “Writers’ Buildings has sought the report with all details of the property and its administration,” the district magistrate said.
The Malda Congress is not taking the developments lightly. “We will tackle this politically. The manner in which the police have framed charges is wrong. How can they allege that our two Lok Sabha members have looted the dargah? We will give a fitting reply at the right time,” said the Congress’s district secretary, Mostaq Alam.
The suo motu case filed by the police also has Alam’s name. Six constables posted at the dargah since a high court order had been beaten by the mob led by the two MPs, the police chief had said earlier.
A separate case had also been filed by the superviser of the dargah.