Munna’s daughter Saba at the Alipore court complex on Saturday. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
Calcutta, March 9: Mohammad Iqbal (Munna) told police today he had gone to the Garden Reach trouble spot under “mantriji’s” instructions to ensure Congress candidates could not draw nomination forms for a college election, CID sources said today.
“Why are you asking the same question again and again? You surely know at whose behest I had gone there,” a senior CID officer quoted the Trinamul councillor, who arrived in Calcutta today to be sent to 10 days’ CID custody, as saying.
“I knew there was a college election. Subah mantriji phone kiye thhey; kaha, ‘Ranajit Seal (the local Trinamul councillor) ka beta injured hai, woh nahi ja payega, tum dekh lena’ (The minister called me in the morning and said, ‘Ranajit Seal would not be able to go there as his son is injured; you take care of the matter’).”
Munna’s daughter today told reporters he had been called to the trouble spot by Seal to help “control” the college election, but Seal accused her of dragging him in to shield her father.
Munna had yesterday said he had been instructed by Trinamul leaders to go underground after the February 12 flare-up during the Harimohan Ghose College election led to a police officer being shot dead. It had become apparent that if he started singing, it could spell discomfort for Trinamul leaders.
But he has taken no names and it remains to be seen whether the investigators pursue the claims and whether Munna clams up after ensuring the political leadership gets the message that pushed beyond a point, he can cause damage.According to the CID sources, Munna said the minister told him: “(Congress activist) Mukhtar and his men will be there; he goes there every year. Kisi bhi haalat mein Congress nomination papers draw na kar paye (Under no circumstances should the Congress be allowed to draw the nomination papers).”
The sources quoted Munna as saying that after the shooting, he had rung up “mantriji” and “briefed” him.
In the dock at Alipore court this afternoon, Munna stood poker-faced, occasionally raising his hands to offer prayers or wiping beads of sweat off his forehead.
Acting chief judicial magistrate Bijayeta Dey asked his name. “Do you have any other name?” she asked after the accused identified himself as Mohammad Iqbal. “Munna. People also call me Chairman Sahab,” he said.
The FIR lodged immediately after the murder had referred to the “fair-looking” and “bald-headed” man who had allegedly instigated the mob leading to the officer’s death as “Chairman Sahab”.
In a forwarding report submitted to the court a day later, the investigating officer had clarified that the mob was “led by Mohammad Iqbal alias Munna who is also called Chairman Sahab” as he was chairman of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s borough XV.
On the basis of the FIR, Munna has been charged with murder, common intent and possession of arms. A second FIR was drawn up in connection with the violence and he was charged with rioting and attempt to murder.
Munna’s lawyer argued in court that “his name” did not figure in the original FIR. “He is a people’s representative and everyone in the area knows him by face. Then why was his name not there?”
The public prosecutor pointed to the forwarding letter as a counter. A Garden Reach officer said: “A Rapid Action Force inspector had filed the FIR. Naturally, he didn’t know Munna by face.”
When reporters approached Munna after the hearing, his daughter Saba warned him from a distance: “Don’t talk to anyone, Papa.”
She had a finger on her lips and Munna too responded by putting a finger on his lips.
A CID officer said Munna had denied knowing Abdus Subhan, the suspected killer who is in judicial custody along with Munna’s right-hand man Ibne Saud.
“I had asked Ibne to accompany me to the college but I don’t know Subhan. I don’t know why Subhan was present or why he fired. I only heard a gunshot and saw a policeman fall,” Munna was quoted as saying.