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Bail comes at a price: a big question and Rs 100

Calcutta, Dec. 6: Jyotirmoy Nandi, the pest-control worker unwittingly snared in the alleged kerosene conspiracy unearthed at Writers’ Buildings, today walked out on bail after six days of wondering why he had been arrested in the first place.

“I am thankful to all those who stood by me and my family in the past six days when I was languishing in police custody. I don’t know why I was arrested. I am not a conspirator,” Jyotirmoy, 47, said after stepping out of the Bankshall court lock-up.

Additional chief judicial magistrate Abhranil Niyogi ordered that Jyotirmoy be released on a personal recognition bond of Rs 100. The government lawyer didn’t oppose Jyotirmoy’s counsel’s plea for unconditional bail, apparently in line with the decision taken by the police headquarters last night not to pursue the charges slapped on him.

Jyotirmoy’s mother Chitra and sister Sumita had reached the court long before a van brought him from Hare Street police station around 11.45am.

Wife Aparna and pregnant daughter Jayati stayed back at their home in Serampore, Hooghly, with his octogenarian father Biswanath, who had taken ill after his son’s arrest on November 30.

Chitra and Sumita’s faces mirrored the tension in the courtroom until Niyogi gave his verdict. Then the tears flowed.

“Finally, justice has reached us. I could not eat and sleep for the past six days. I kept crying all the time,” said Jyotirmoy’s mother, who had visited the police station on Wednesday to see her son. She had waited at the court throughout yesterday in the hope that her son’s bail prayer would be heard.

Sumita today thanked Bismai Rai, the registrar of the home publication department, for standing by her brother. Rai, who had hired Jyotirmoy, had said he was sure the pest-control worker did not have any ulterior motive.

At Serampore, Aparna couldn’t believe her ears on being told that her ordeal was over, at least temporarily. She said over phone that the pain of her husband’s humiliation was harder to bear than the shock of him having to spend six nights in a police station lock-up.

“He had to face so much humiliation without doing anything wrong. I have not heard his voice since November 30. I can’t wait to see him by my side,” the homemaker said.

Jyotirmoy, his family’s breadwinner with a monthly income of around Rs 5,000, had been hired by the home publication department to spray insecticide on a floor at Writers’ Buildings. He was arrested on November 30 after a policeman on duty smelt kerosene sprinkled on the floor where he had sprayed insecticide the previous evening.

Sources said Jyotirmoy did carry a bottle of kerosene with him to Writers’ on November 29 along with a plastic sprayer and insecticide. They also said it was common for pest-control personnel to mix kerosene with insecticide, regardless of the safety of such a concoction.

But nobody would have foreseen the use of insecticide laced with kerosene landing Jyotirmoy in lock-up for an alleged conspiracy to burn down the seat of power.

According to lawyers, Jyotirmoy being granted bail without any opposition from the government lawyer showed how flimsy the police case against him was.

The conspiracy charge, if proved, could have put him in jail for the rest of his life.

“An accused is released on PR bond when he commits a petty offence. The officers of a police station are authorised to allow an accused to go free on a PR bond without producing him in court. But Jyotirmoy had to spend six nights in police custody to get bail. This shows that the whole episode might have been a face-saver after a false arrest,” a lawyer said.

Sources at Lalbazar, the police headquarters, said the charges against Jyotirmoy under multiple sections of the IPC would be diluted shortly and a “softer one” incorporated in the case diary.

When Jyotirmoy’s bail plea came up for hearing at 2.30pm today, public prosecutor Krishna Chandra Das immediately made it clear where the case stood.

“The accused was remanded in police custody for five days. The police interrogated him thoroughly. We don’t need to interrogate him anymore. I pray for his judicial custody. Now it is the court’s discretion to grant the accused bail.”

By the time Jyotirmoy’s lawyer Syed Sahid Imam stood up to accuse the police of slapping false charges, the additional chief judicial magistrate had started writing what turned out to be the bail order.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for December 20.