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Nandi bail scramble

Tamluk, March 21: Trinamul Congress leaders and workers accused in criminal cases relating to the 2007 land agitation in Nandigram are scrambling to obtain bail to avoid arrest following the Election Commission’s order to execute pending warrants.

In the past fortnight, around 200 Trinamul leaders have surrendered in the Haldia ASJM court and obtained bail in some of the cases against them. According to official sources, when the Lok Sabha polls were declared, around 1,500 warrants were pending against 300-odd people in various cases related to the movement.

A lawyer appearing for some of the accused said: “The cases are of rioting, looting, arson and damage to government property.”

The cabinet had on January 31 approved the proposal to start appealing in courts for the withdrawal of 122 cases related to the Singur movement and 303 cases linked to Nandigram. So far, 76 Nandigram cases have been withdrawn.

Prominent among those who have obtained bail are Trinamul leaders and panchayat functionaries Abu Taher, Sheikh Sufiyan, Soyem Kazi, Kalikrishna Pradhan and Swadesh Adhikari. Taher, Sufiyan and Kazi had led the anti-acquisition movement and were the faces of Trinamul in Nandigram.

Lawyers at Haldia court said the accused had realised that it would be virtually impossible for the government to get all 303 cases withdrawn before the Lok Sabha polls. The Lok Sabha polls in Tamluk are scheduled for May 12.

“If they fail to obtain bail, they might be arrested because of the poll panel’s instruction to execute warrants,” a lawyer at the Haldia court said.

Zilla parishad sahakari sabhadhipati Sheikh Sufiyan alleged that the CPM had implicated Trinamul leaders “with a political motive.”

“Even though the state government has decided to withdraw the cases, the process might take some time. So, we are taking no chances. Nearly 200 people have already obtained bail,” said Sufiyan.