Calcutta, March 30: A case of alleged political bullying of an official is getting curiouser and curiouser.
Hours after police picked up 10 suspects who literally laughed their way out of the court premises after getting bail unopposed, it emerged that the block development officer who had accused an MLA of assault had substantially changed his complaint.
The first complaint was filed on either March 25, the day of the incident, or March 26. The second was filed on March 26. Both complaints said the flashpoint was the removal of festoons and banners featuring the chief minister’s photographs from public places in North 24-Parganas.
It is on the basis of the revised complaint that the police made the token arrests. No proceedings had started against the Trinamul MLA till this evening.
The revised complaint neither mentions the MLA by name nor has it retained the original charge that he abused the BDO over phone, barged into his room and assaulted him. The new complaint merely says 25 Trinamul supporters “exchanged hot talkings” and threatened the team tasked with enforcing the model code of conduct.
The BDO told this newspaper tonight that he had changed the memo because he did not want to retain the filthy language used by his assailants but added that he had named the MLA before police officers who interviewed him this evening for three hours and video-graphed his statement.
But official circles in Calcutta were abuzz with suggestions through the day that intense pressure was exerted on March 26, when the second complaint was drafted, to ensure the dilution of the statement. Some officials had expressed fears yesterday itself that the complaint might already have been changed.
BDO Dinabandhu Gayen, a 53-year-old official, refused to blame anyone.
The Telegraph is publishing both complaints, placing the documents in the public domain so that readers can decide what may have happened.
The actions of the district administration and the police since March 25 when the alleged incident took place speak volumes.
An FIR was registered only on March 28 —— two days after the complaint was lodged.
A subtle blame game appears to have broken out over the delay.
District magistrate Sanjay Bansal said Gayen’s complaint was forwarded to the superintendent of police on March 28 and an FIR was lodged promptly. Asked about the two-day delay, Bansal said: “I will definitely inquire into it and if the OC’s negligence is found, action will be taken against him.”
The police, however, claimed they had received no complaint before March 28 although the BDO’s complaint was addressed to the officer in charge of Ashoknagar police station in North 24-Parganas. “No complaint was lodged with us before,” said Tanmay Ray Chaudhury, the superintendent of police.
Although the core issue was related to the model code of conduct, the Election Commission was not informed until this newspaper reported the matter.
The Election Commission today asked the district magistrate and the SP to submit a report.
Assistant chief electoral officer Amit Roy Chowdhury said: “We have asked the district administration to let us know what exactly happened with the BDO and what action has been taken so far.”
Another official said: “District administrations are supposed to inform us of MCC violations. Within 24 hours, they have to submit a report mentioning the action taken. Similarly, the district magistrates are supposed to send reports to the commission about all the FIRs lodged in police stations. In this case, the EC was in the dark and came to know about the incident only after it appeared in an English daily.”
District magistrate Bansal said: “The police station didn’t inform me of the FIR. Unless a case is registered, how can I inform the EC?”
Bansal informed the poll panel of Gayen’s complaint only today although copies of both complaints were addressed to him on March 26.
The FIR has been drawn up on the basis of the second complaint. The MLA is now accused of “arguing roughly” with the BDO over the phone.
Although the fresh complaint does not mention that the legislator was present when the BDO was threatened, MLA Dhiman Roy repeated to The Telegraph today: “Yes, I visited the BDO’s office a day after the incident to sort out the matter. But I never assaulted him.”
All the 10 accused were granted bail on Sunday. No government lawyer was present on behalf of the police. The police neither opposed bail nor sought custody of the accused although several others are yet to be arrested.
In the forwarding letter that was submitted to the government records officer at Barasat court before it was placed before the magistrate, the police mentioned only the heated argument.
Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said: “I have to see what complaint the BDO has filed with the OC. If Dhiman has done what he is accused of, I am condemning it. He should not have done so. But the BDO’s actions are also questionable. Why did he remove the posters by himself? His actions seem to be politically motivated. Everybody knows BDOs are highly politicised in Bengal.”
Chatterjee added: “There can be no comparison between Dhiman and the Saharanpur candidate (who threatened to chop Narendra Modi into pieces). Dhiman khub bhadro chhele (civilised person). He may have become emotional.”