The ambulance, which the cattle lifters had driven, at Islampur police station. Picture by Mehedi Hedaytullah
Islampur, May 7: An ambulance driver has been arrested for lifting 30 cattle heads worth over Rs 9 lakh, prompting a CPM minister to allege that a former Congress MLA who had donated the vehicle was behind the racket.
Mohammed Guddu was remanded in two days’ police custody today and the investigators are looking for other members of his gang who had lifted the cattle from a truck on NH31 near Ramganj on Wednesday night. The CPM minister, Anarul Haque, has alleged that the ambulance, which belonged to Chopra block hospital, was being used by the former Congress MLA for criminal activities.
Inspector-in-charge of Islampur police station Krishnendu Mukherjee said the truck was on way to Haldibari when Guddu and seven others stopped the vehicle on NH31. The driver of the truck, Golam Jilani, thought that the men in the ambulance wanted some help and stopped.
“But within seconds, the gang brought out firearms and overpowered Jilani and the truck helper. Both the men were tied with a rope and bundled into the ambulance. While the cattle were offloaded and taken away by some gangsters, others took the ambulance to a nearby place and dumped Jilani and the helper in a field,” said the police officer..
In the morning, local people found Jilani and the helper and freed them. Jilani called up the members of the truck drivers’ syndicate at Dalkhola and told them about the incident.
While the syndicate members were taking Jilani to Islampur, he recognised the ambulance parked in a garage at Durganagar colony. As Jilani had noticed the name of the donor written on the ambulance, he could easily identify it.
The ambulance had been donated by former Congress MLA of Chopra Hamidur Rahman using the local area development founds.
Jilani went straight to Islampur police station and lodged a written complaint against the ambulance driver and seven others. The police rushed to the garage and arrested Guddu.
Minister of state for public health and engineering Anarul Haque of the CPM alleged that Rahman was using the ambulance for illegal activities. “The ambulance was being used by Rahman’s cohorts for criminal activities. I had brought the matter to the notice of the police and other officials on earlier occasions also. If the police conduct an impartial inquiry, the truth will come out,” said Haque, who is also the Chopra MLA.
Rahman denied any role in the incident. “I had bought the ambulance for Chopra using the MLA’s local area development funds. I am no longer an MLA and the ambulance is being taken care of by the health department. The charges made against me are baseless.”
Medical officer of the Chopra block hospital Amit Majumder said the ambulance had been missing since Tuesday. “The driver had not taken my permission while taking out the vehicle. I tried to contact Guddu over the mobile phone. But he had not responded to the calls,” said Majumder. Asked why he did not lodge any complaint with the police when the ambulance had been missing for three days, Majumder said he came to know about the incident only after the police had contacted him yesterday.
Mukherjee said the truck had been found at Ramganj and the police were looking for the seven others involved in the lifting of the cattle.
Islampur subdivisional officer Partha Ghosh said an investigation was being conducted to look into all charges.