The chief minister is upset at the police’s delay in moving in on Shambhu Nath Kow, which offered an “easy escape route” to the Trinamul councillor accused of murder, government sources said.
Mamata’s mood prompted police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha to visit Writers’ and meet the chief minister at least twice on Friday, while Kow remained at large for the third day.
“The chief minister held meetings with the city police chief more than once today,” said an official in the home department.
“She has expressed her displeasure over the failure of the police to arrest a man not known to be a hardcore criminal. The chief minister thinks the police swung into action late, presenting the councillor with an easy escape route,” said a functionary in the chief minister’s office.
The ward 58 councillor has been charged with the murder of party colleague Adhir Maity, who was opposing Kow’s alleged plan to use a 16cottah vacant plot on Dhapa Road to rehabilitate vendors blocking the expansion of a road leading to a realty project.
The police chief visited Maity’s home on Friday evening and assured his relatives that the accused would be arrested soon.
The FIR for the March 20 incident mentions the names of nine persons “and others” as accused. The police have so far been able to arrest only one.
“In the Garden Reach incident, Ranjit Kumar Pachnanda was removed from the police commissioner’s post for including a Trinamul councillor’s (Munna) name in the FIR,” said a senior officer. “Now that it is clear that the chief minister wants this Trinamul councillor (Kow) to be arrested, who knows what’s in store?”
Metro has learnt that the police conducted several futile raids across the city in search of Kow in the past 24 hours. The locations include the houses of a former and a serving Trinamul councillor in south Calcutta.
“We are acting on all tip-offs we are getting. Getting Kow is top priority,” said a senior police officer.
While Kow remained elusive, some of his relatives and aides leaked information and documents suggesting that he had been acting on behalf of mayor Sovan Chatterjee.
“The mayor met Kow last Saturday after presenting the civic budget. The councillor wanted some more time to get the vendors shifted to the Dhapa Road plot. But the mayor instructed him to relocate the vendors immediately,” said an aide of Kow.
According to him, the mayor told Kow that civic officials would help him with the formalities for the shift.
The mayor, however, denied that he had met Kow last Saturday.
Maity, the slain leader, and others apparently wanted to build a temple on the plot, which had earlier housed a Chinese burial ground and later a cowshed.
Sources said Kow had written to the municipal commissioner on November 30 last year, urging the authorities to requisition the plot. The letter, however, evoked no response. A copy of the letter was sent to the mayor’s office.
Municipal commissioner Khalil Ahmed said: “I had received the letter. But the civic authorities do not have the authority to requisition land. It has to be done by the land and land reforms department.” The mayor pleaded ignorance about the letter.