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Arrest after minister home ‘intrusion’

- Lawyer says two accused mistook address, complainant alleges trespass

Balurghat, Dec. 11: Two fish traders who had apparently mistaken a minister’s house in South Dinajpur’s Balurghat for that of their lawyer’s have been arrested and charged under a non-bailable IPC section for trespassing.

Lawyer Sudip Roychowdhury said his clients Madhusudan Das and Basudeb Haldar had last night knocked on the door of co-operation minister and local Trinamul MLA Sankar Chakrabarty, his neighbour, thinking it to be Roychowdhury’s house. The lawyer said the duo had come to discuss a case with him.

The minister’s son, however, alleged that Das and Haldar had entered the house without knocking on the door and their “behaviour was highly suspicious”. Chakrabarty was not at home.

The fish traders were today remanded in seven days’ police custody by the Balurghat chief judicial magistrate’s court. They have been booked under Section 457 (house trespass at night) of the IPC, which carries a maximum punishment of five years in jail.

Roychowdhury said his clients had called him by his nickname — Sankhya — after “mistakenly” entering the premises of minister Chakrabarty’s house in Congress Para.

“They came around 8.15 last night to discuss a case with me. Since the minister and I are neighbours, my clients got confused and went to the wrong house. The minister’s son came out and abused them,” Roychowdhury said.

The lawyer said that as his nickname and the minister’s first name sounded similar, it could have increased the confusion. It could not be found out if the accused had asked any passer-by about the lawyer’s address and were directed to the minister’s home because of the closely sounding names.

Roychowdhury said that after Das and Haldar realised they had come to the wrong house, they “apologised” to Chakrabarty’s son Ritabrata.

“But the minister’s son refused to accept the apology and abused them. My clients did not enter the minister’s home. While they were returning home after meeting me, the police arrested him,” Roychowdhury said.

Ritabrata, a lawyer, said the accused did not call out any name. “They entered our drawing room without knocking on the door. When I asked them their names, they didn’t reply. They immediately left the room, talking on their cellphones. Their behaviour was highly suspicious,” he said.

He said one of the alleged trespassers had come to his chamber in his house on Monday in connection with the sale of a pond. Ritabrata said one of the accused had a shop near the minister’s house. “So, they should have known my father and our house,” Ritabrata added. He did not divulge the identity of either.

Roychowdhury, however, said neither Das nor Haldar ran a shop in the locality. “They take ponds on rent and do fish farming.”

He said the accused were arrested after the minister’s personal security officer informed Balurghat police over phone. “The police registered a complaint suo motu and arrested Das and Haldar,” Roychowdhury said.

“We will approach the state human rights commission. Anybody can make such mistakes. Can a person be arrested just for knocking on someone’s door? Roychowdhury said.

Prasun Banerjee, the superintendent of police of South Dinajpur, said: “We have arrested two persons on the charge of criminal trespass.”

Minister Chakrabarty was unavailable for comment.