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Journalist-attack accused arrested
- Trinamul leader Shibu Yadav and 8 others picked up from Bihar

Calcutta, June 13: Police today arrested Trinamul leader Shibu Yadav, whose men are accused of attacking three photojournalists in Barrackpore on June 7, from Bihar’s East Champaran district.

“Shibu Yadav has been arrested in Bihar. A team of police officers has left (for the neighbouring state). We will bring him on transit remand to Calcutta,” said Sanjay Singh, the chief of the Barrackpore police commissionerate. “We are looking for a few others.”

Trinamul has been distancing itself from Shibu, a loyalist of the party’s Bhatpara MLA Arjun Singh, since Astik Chattopadhayay of ABP Ananda, Barun Sengupta of 24 Ghanta and Tona Singha Roy of Kolkata TV accused Shibu of masterminding the attack when they went to cover a murder at Barrackpore’s Sadar Bazar.

The murder, Trinamul sources had said, was the fallout of the feud between Shibu and local councillor Rabin Bhattacharya, a Mukul Roy loyalist.

Astik and Barun were admitted to hospital with serious injuries on their head and back.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had instructed the police to arrest the main accused.

“Shibu fled soon after the attack. As information started trickling in that he was in Bihar, we set up a special operations group to track him. We had provided East Champaran police details of Shibu, including his photograph. He was arrested with eight others,” commissioner Singh said.

Shibu is the latest in a growing list of Trinamul leaders who have been arrested in the recent past for alleged involvement in criminal activities.

Mohammed Iqbal alias Munna, a civic chairman in Garden Reach known to be close to urban development minister Firhad Hakim, was arrested in Bihar on the charge of masterminding the murder of sub-inspector Tapas Chaudhuri during a ruckus over a college election.

Another Trinamul councillor, Sambhu Nath Kow, was arrested from Balia in Uttar Pradesh for his alleged involvement in the murder of party leader Adhir Maity.

Trinamul leader Arabul Islam was also jailed in January for allegedly leading an attack on CPM veteran Abdur Rezzak Mollah.

“Trinamul has disowned the likes of Shibu because we don’t believe in criminalisation of politics,” councillor Bhattacharya, who is a lawyer, said after the arrest.

Officers of Sugauli police station, around 200km north of Patna and in East Champaran, arrested Shibu and the eight others during a routine night check on vehicles on the highway connecting Rauxal and Sugali late last night. The officers became suspicious after they found a Tata Sumo with a Bengal registration number speeding down the Raxaul side of the highway. The car refused to stop when the police asked it to.

“We intercepted the vehicle near Azad Chowk in Sugauli,” said Sugauli station house officer Lalit Vijay Tiwari. “During interrogation, the statements of the members of the group appeared to be contradictory.”

Barrackpore police sources said officers from Sugauli contacted their superiors, who had by then been tipped off by Barrackpore police on Shibu.

Sugauli police contacted their Barrackpore counterparts and informed them that a person matching the description of Shibu had been nabbed.

After a few phone calls between East Champaran police superintendent Vinay Kumar and Barrackpore commissioner Singh, Sugauli police arrested Shibu and the others, who are said to be Barrackpore residents.

Barrackpore police said Shibu and the others had been moving in and around East Champaran for the past few days.

The police have started a case of attempt to murder against Shibu and several others. Fourteen people had been arrested within two days of the attack on the journalists.

“Shibu has been chargesheeted in four other cases. We will interrogate him to get details on his activities in and around Barrackpore,” said a senior officer of Barrackpore police.