Fugitive Trinamul councillor Mohammad Iqbal, alias Munna, has said he would have surrendered if he hadn’t been arrested in Bihar on Thursday night, lending credence to the theory that the CID baited him through his family.
Munna, who had been on the run since the murder of Calcutta police sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury in Garden Reach on February 12, told ABP Ananda from behind a railway police lock-up on Friday that he was to board the Howrah-bound Jodhpur Express at Dehri-on-Sone railway station when plainclothes policemen arrested him.
“I had a ticket, a ticket to Howrah,” he said.
Munna denied that he was trying to board a taxi to Jamshedpur from outside the railway station when he was arrested. “I was only talking (to the taxi driver). I had made up my mind to surrender after reaching Calcutta,” he told the channel.
The CID, which had raided his relative’s house at Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh the previous day, apparently tipped the railway police about Munna planning to leave Dehri-on-Sone by train or road.
Sources in the CID said they had mounted pressure on the family, especially Munna’s college-going daughter Saba in Jamshedpur, to convince her father that they would be “soft” on him if he gave himself up.
“There had been several rounds of communication with the family in the 48 hours preceding his arrest. We told them that we would be soft on him if he surrendered… . That helped us win the family’s trust and we learnt that he was to take the Jodhpur Express to reach Howrah,” a CID officer said.
Munna claimed he had been framed in the Garden Reach case. “I had nothing to do with that incident… . This is political vendetta,” he said.
The Trinamul leader said he went underground at the behest of a senior party leader. “He asked me to leave the state for four-five days as the situation (in the aftermath of the sub-inspector’s murder) was volatile. He said I should return only after getting his signal.”
Munna is being brought back to the city on transit remand after being produced before the first class judicial magistrate of Gaya on Friday afternoon.
Sources said he was carrying Rs 1,06,880 in cash, a golden wrist watch, a pen, bed sheet and towel, and a pair of spectacles at the time of his arrest. He didn’t have a mobile phone on him, the police said.
Saba, her younger brother and two cousins arrived at the Government Railway Police post in Dehri-on-Sone, a 537km drive from Calcutta, around 8.30am on Friday to meet their father.
The railway police handed Saba the cash found on her father along with his other possessions. He was allowed to keep his spectacles.
Munna’s daughter and son and two relatives accompanying them left for Bengal by car after the railway police took him to Gaya, a distance of around 117km.
First class judicial magistrate Namita Singh, standing in for her railway court counterpart Rajendra Kumar Tripathi, granted permission to the CID to take Munna to Bengal almost immediately after the railway police produced him at her official residence in Gaya.
The four-member CID team waiting to take custody of Munna since noon left for Calcutta with their prize catch in a private vehicle around 5.45pm.