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Jail term for Cong leader in Tripura

Agartala, Nov. 11: The district and sessions judge of North Tripura, Gautam Debnath, today sentenced former PCC president and Congress MLA Birajit Sinha to three months’ imprisonment under the arms act for involvement in poll clashes.

Sinha, along with two fellow Congress leaders — Badaruzzaman, Chandrasekhar Sinha — and his personal security officer Pramode Mazumder was, however, acquitted of murder charges.

The court sentenced CPM leader and former upapradhan of Babur Bazar panchayat, Abdul Rahaman to two-and-a-half years of rigorous imprisonment under Sections 342, 323, 307 and 302 of Indian Penal Code.

Sinha obtained bail from the court and is preparing to file an appeal in the high court for acquittal from the charges brought against him under the arms act.

In his order, the district and sessions judge categorically said he would have “preferred to sentence Abdul Rahaman to life but had given him two-and-a-half years imprisonment considering his advanced age and the fact that he is a patient of cancer”.

The sentencing was related to a case that had been dragging for over nine years over an incident on July 20, 2004, when repolling was on in Babur Bazar panchayat near Kailasahar town as part of the statewide panchayat polls on July 18.

Narrating the sequence of events, Sinha’s advocate Pijush Biswas said on the day of repolling, Sinha, who represents Kailasahar Assembly constituency, was informed that CPM workers and supporters had been rigging the polls at Arabinda colony booth.

“Sinha, accompanied by party leaders Badruzzaman and Chandrasekhar Sinha, besides two security officers, Nikhil Deb and Pramode Mazumder, left for the Arabinda colony booth. But their vehicle was waylaid by armed CPM supporters who tried to attack them. In order to save Sinha, his security guard Nikhil Deb fired from his service revolver and shot dead Abdul Hannan but the armed CPM supporters pounced on Nikhil and shot him dead on the spot,” said Biswas.

Both Birajit Sinha and slain Hannan’s father Abdul Rahaman filed complaints.

Despite the three months’ sentence passed on Sinha, there was a palpable relief in the upper echelons of Tripura PCC because had Sinha been handed a jail term of two years or more, he would have been disqualified as an MLA and the Congress would have lost the status of Opposition party.

In the 60-member Assembly, the Congress has 10 MLAs — just one-sixth of the total strength of the house required for recognition as an Opposition party.

“I do not wish to pass any comment on the order passed by the honourable district and sessions judge; he has given the verdict in his wisdom and we have scope for appealing in the high court,” said PCC working president Asish Saha.