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Four held for arson

Jalpaiguri, April 2: Four persons purported to be close to the Congress pradhan of Barapetia gram panchayat have been arrested in connection with yesterday’s raid on two villages where five houses were torched and 20 others were ransacked or looted.

The attack on Daspara and adjoining Nathuarchar had been carried out by a mob allegedly led by pradhan Monohori Roy. The pradhan was avenging an assault on him when he went to one of the villages to evict squatters from vested land a few days earlier.

While Sukanta Barman, Ranjit Roy and Ananda Biswas were picked up from Nathuarchar, Swades Roy was arrested from Bodaganj. The four were arrested by Kotwali police around 2.30am today and were remanded in judicial custody for three days.

The additional superintendent of police of Jalpaiguri, Santosh Pandey, said a team had gone to the pradhan’s house late last night to arrest him.

“But the police couldn’t find the pradhan, who is the main accused in the case. Raids are going on to round up Monohori Roy.”

The police said they had no idea of the political leanings of the arrested quartet. “The four have been arrested as we found out that they were among those who had carried out the violence yesterday,” said K.C. Roy, the inspector in charge of Kotwali police station.

However, the residents of Nathuarchar and Daspara, around 20km from here, said the four arrested men were close to the pradhan.

“We cannot say for sure whether these four were part of the mob that attacked us. But all of them are close to Monohori Roy and do not miss any political event organised by him,” said a villager who didn’t want to be named.