Tamluk, June 26: Tamalika Panda Seth was reappointed chairperson of the Left-controlled Haldia municipality on a day her husband Lakshman Seth was transferred to the Alipore Central Jail from the Haldia sub-jail, allegedly because he was getting favourable treatment in prison.
The allegations regarding the CPM leader’s jail stay — he faces trial in the Nandigram recapture case — were made by the local Trinamul Congress leadership.
On June 13, nearly 200 Trinamul Congress workers demonstrated in front of the Haldia sub-jail.
“The jail authorities would turn a blind eye when cooked food and bottled water was brought from outside for Seth. He was also allowed to use his mobile phone and stayed in a big room of a hospital building inside the jail. He used to instruct to party cadres from inside the jail in the run-up to the Haldia civic polls,” said Tapan Maity, a Trinamul youth leader in Haldia.
The controller of the Haldia sub-jail, Santosh Sarkar, has been transferred to the Midnapore Central Jail.
Even though the subdivisional officer of Haldia, Shilpa Gourisaria, also the superintendent of the sub-jail, refused to comment on the transfer, sources in the jail said Sarkar was shunted out following the Trinamul’s allegations against him.
Sarkar said that he got the letter of transfer from the jails department yesterday. “I have been transferred to Midnapore Central Jail with immediate effect. I don’t know why I was transferred,” he said.
On Seth’s transfer to Alipore Central Jail, Sarkar said: “I got another letter from the jails department yesterday asking me to shift Seth to Alipore Central Jail because of inadequate staff strength in the sub-jail. The police took Seth in a van to Alipore Central Jail this morning.”
A source in the Haldia jail said: “The allegations are serious. In jail only dry packed food such as biscuits, puffed rice and chanachur is allowed to be supplied to a prisoner. Bottled water from outside is not allowed and a mobile phone is strictly prohibited. As the nature of allegation was serious the sub-jailer was transferred.”
The SDO, however, said: “The sub-jailor was transferred following an order from the jails department. Seth was also transferred to Alipore Central Jail following another order.”
When the news of Seth’s transfer to Alipore reached Tamalika at the conference hall of Haldia municipality where the swearing-in of councillors was in progress, she suppressed her tears. Later, she broke down in the conference hall.
“Today is a big moment for us. If my husband was in the Haldia jail now, I would have gone to meet him. But, I was deprived of it. False allegations were brought against him. He did not any special favour from the jail authority,” said Tamalika, who has been elected for the fourth consecutive term.
“I am surprised that my husband was shifted out of Haldia on this day when I was re-elected chairperson of the municipality,” she added.