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Snipe at trespass arrest

Balurghat, Dec. 12: The Congress today drew a parallel between the arrest of two fish traders on the charge of trespassing on the house of minister Sankar Chakrabarty in Balurghat and actions on farmer Siladitya Chowdhury and professor Ambikesh Mahapatra in the past.

Madhusudhan Das and Basudeb Haldar were arrested on Tuesday night and booked under Section 457 (house trespass at night) of IPC that carries a maximum jail term of five years.

The duo’s lawyer, Sudip Roychaudhury, said they had come to meet him to discuss a case and mistakenly gone to the minister’s house which is in the neighbourhood.

The South Dinajpur district president of the Congress, Nilanjan Roy, said: “Many people often go to a lawyer’s house. The minister’s son himself is a lawyer. If one goes to somebody’s house by mistake, should he be punished? We have seen what happened to Siladitya and Ambikesh Mahapatra in the past. Police in our district have arrested many people in false cases just to satisfy leaders of the ruling party. We will put up a strong fight against such a trend.”

Shiladiya Chowdhury had been arrested for questioning chief minister Mamata Banerjee on rising fertiliser prices at a rally addressed by her at Belpahari on August 8 last year.

Mahapatra, a professor at Jadavpur University, was arrested on April 13, 2012, on the charge of circulating an Internet cartoon lampooning the chief minister.

The RSP has also condemned the arrest. “The two, as I have come to know, went to the minister’s house by mistake. But to book them under a non-bailable section of IPC needs to be condemned,” said Sucheta Biswas, an RSP leader and a former chairperson of Balurghat municipality.

The Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) said the arrest of the fish traders was an abuse of power. “I want to know how could police be so sure that they had intentionally gone to the minister’s house with a criminal intention? Was there any justification to book them under a non-bailable section? The arrest is an abuse of power by police,” the association’s Darjeeling district secretary, Abhiranjan Bhaduri, said.