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Police fight shy of custody

Malda, April 12: Police today refrained from seeking custody of the four Trinamul members, including a minister’s son-in-law, accused of assaulting poll officials in Malda.

The accused were initially remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody but the period was reduced to five days when the defence lawyer told the court the police had failed to submit the injury report and other case details.

The four — minister Sabitri Mitra’s son-in-law Soumyadeep Sarkar and Trinamul members Jamal Sheikh, Mukuleswar Rehman and Matiur Rehman — were picked up yesterday after the Election Commission ordered Bengal director-general of police G.M.P. Reddy to arrest those named in the FIR and submit an action-taken report by 5pm.

Although the poll officials had been beaten up for filming a Trinamul motorbike rally in Manikchak on Thursday morning for which permission had not been taken, none of the four named in the FIR were arrested till the poll panel’s directive. The FIR had been lodged by the Manikchak BDO.

Around 1.30pm today, defence lawyer Abani Dutta moved a bail petition. Chief judicial magistrate Sumitra Deb rejected it after additional public prosecutor Jayanta Majumdar challenged it, saying two of the charges were non-bailable.

When the judge sent the accused to 14 days’ judicial custody, defence lawyer Dutta argued that the police had not produced enough evidence.

“The police are yet to submit the injury report and other details. So I appeal that the remand period be reduced,” Dutta said.

Deb slashed the remand to five days and fixed the next hearing on April 16. The judge told the police to submit the case diary on that day.

Asked why the police had not sought custody of the four accused, the additional public prosecutor said it wasn’t needed.

“All the four have been arrested, so there is no requirement for police remand,” Majumdar said.

Malda police superintendent Rupesh Kumar refused comment when asked why the law-enforcers did not seek custody of the four. “We have arrested all four named in the FIR,” he said.

The election agent of Moazzem Hossain, for whom the bike rally had been brought out, today lodged a complaint against the team of poll officials at Manikchak police station.

“The election team members stopped our candidate’s car by parking their vehicle in front of it. They also used provocative language, because of which our supporters lost their cool,” said Ramprobesh Mondal, the election agent.

“The election team was trying to do what should have been done by the police. The team acted beyond its jurisdiction.”