Chowdhury at his home. Picture by Chayan Majumdar
Behrampore, Feb. 8: Police have started a suo motu case against five persons in connection with the vandalism in front of the district magistrate’s bungalow in Behrampore yesterday with police sources saying Adhir Chowdhury has been named in the FIR.
Murshidabad police chief Humayun Kabir, however, refused to divulge the names of the persons named in the FIR.
“An FIR has been lodged against five persons and an unidentified mob of around 1,200 people who were involved in yesterday’s vandalism. For the sake of investigations, we will not disclose the names of the five prime accused. Necessary arrests will be made after acquiring evidences against the accused,” Kabir said.
The FIR has been filed by Behrampore inspector-in-charge Mohai Minul Haq for alleged rioting, damaging public property, conspiracy and attack on government employees.
Junior railway minister Chowdhury had given a call to gherao DM Rajesh Kumar’s bungalow, following which a 2,000-strong mob of Congress supporters had broken furniture and flowerpots and vandalised a jeep in the circuit house adjoining the DM’s bungalow. The ruckus started after two Congress teams could not submit a memorandum to Kumar, who was not in office.
A source in Behrampore police station said Chowdhury and former minister Manoj Chakraborty, who is also the local MLA, had been named in the FIR.
“It is clear that if any person is to be booked for the ransacking, it has to be the Behrampore MP (Chowdhury). He instigated the party workers to gherao the DM’s bungalow and eventually lost control of them,” an officer said.
Chowdhury denied the allegations against him. “ Nothing happened yesterday. The DM is to blame for the entire incident. If police file a false case against me, I will gherao the SP,” he said.
Later, Chowdhury contradicted his own statement. “Ja korechhi besh korehchi (what I have done is right),” he said, repeating the sentence thrice. “I will do it again if needed.”
He accused the police of colluding with Mamata Banerjee to frame him. “Trinamul has realised it will lose the Rejinagar bypoll (in the district on February 23). So to harass me, the police have initiated a case against me on the instructions of Didi,” Chowdhury said.
He said he would have “suspended” the DM had he been chief minister.
“The DM insulted the Congress workers. He did not meet us even though we had taken an appointment. This angered our party workers. As a responsible minister, I performed my duty and tried to pacify them. No Congress worker entered the bungalow. But in the rush, only two flowerpots were broken,” Chowdhury said.
Repeated calls to DM Kumar’s phone went unanswered.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said that in case of criminal cases, the police could arrest an accused MP and then inform the Lok Sabha Speaker. “The Speaker’s permission is necessary in the event of an arrest of an MP.”
The party leadership appeared to defend Chowdhury.
Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said: “West Bengal has different yardsticks for measuring vandalism. Their vandalism is different from our vandalism. We first want to know what is vandalism in Bengal. Is declaring somebody a Maoist and putting him in jail for asking a question vandalism? Is going to the police station and beating policemen to free own party workers vandalism?”