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CIMA Gallary

Free run for OT fire trader

Tamluk, Sept. 2: A trader accused of allegedly setting ablaze a nursing home OT in August is lying in a Calcutta hospital with burns but police say they are unable to arrest him as the local force cannot spare a man to guard him at the hospital.

Muktiprasad Bera, who suffered burn injuries in his legs when he allegedly set the health facility’s OT on fire, has been charged with attempt

to murder.

He has been moving from one hospital to another, the police said, using fictitious names to avoid arrest.

The police said they knew about timber trader Bera’s whereabouts.

The officer in charge of the Tamluk police station, Arun Khan, said: “Bera has switched hospitals several times. Now, he is admitted to government hospital in Calcutta. If we arrest him now, we won’t be able to produce him in court. We will have to deploy at least one policeman to guard him at the hospital.

We don’t have any man to spare. Let him be discharged from the hospital. Then we will arrest him.” The Tamluk police station has 40 personnel.

The police said Bera, 56, set the OT on fire because the owner of the nursing home run from his two-storeyed building had allegedly refused to vacate the space after the expiry of the lease agreement.

Bera had leased out the building to Sami Samanta Pramanik, the owner of Seva Nursing Home, in 2005 and the agreement ended in last December.

A litigation is pending in the Tamluk civil court. “Bera tried to murder patients admitted to my nursing home by setting fire to it,” Pramanik said.

After setting the OT ablaze, Bera had himself got trapped in the room. A laboratory assistant who was sleeping in an adjoining room had pulled him out, following which Bera had fled. A patient had said he had seen “a man sprinkling spirit” in the corridor outside the OT”.

The East Midnapore Nursing Home Owners’ Association criticised the police’s failure to arrest Bera.

The president of the association, Nakul Palui, said: “Even though Muktiprasad Bera has been charged with a non-bailable offence, the police are not arresting him. They know fully well where the man is. If he is not arrested immediately, he might escape. The owner of Seva Nursing Home and I met police superintendent Sukesh Jain and additional district magistrate Moloy Haldar last week to demand that Bera be immediately arrested.”

District police chief Jain refused comment.