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Rapid ‘arms’ action against Babul

Asansol, April 16: Police have started a case under the Arms Act against Babul Supriyo, the BJP candidate for the Asansol Lok Sabha seat, on the basis of a complaint lodged by Trinamul following an altercation on the singer’s campaign trail.

The police have also charged Supriyo under Section 326 of the IPC, which deals with “voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means” and carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail.

The Raniganj circle inspector of police has summoned Supriyo to his office for interrogation within 48 hours.

The Opposition alleged that grave charges had been brought against Supriyo without sufficient proof at a time no action had been taken against Birbhum Trinamul chief Anubrata Mondal, an accused in a murder case.

On April 12, Trinamul activists led by block president Senapati Mandal had allegedly thrown stones at Supriyo’s car, beaten up two BJP leaders and abused and pushed the singer when he came to their rescue.

Based on a complaint filed by Supriyo, the police have started cases of theft, assault and preventing a candidate from campaigning against Senapati Mandal and others. Supriyo denied the charge that he was carrying arms, adding that Senapati Mandal was also not armed. He said it was “very surprising” that the police had booked him under the Arms Act, which carries a maximum punishment of seven years in jail, “without verification”.

“It was clear from TV footage that there was an altercation between me and Trinamul leader Senapati Mandal. Some Trinamul workers had pushed me. None of us, including the Trinamul leader, were carrying arms,” added Supriyo, who filed his nomination today.

The BJP candidate said he would meet the Raniganj circle inspector of police tomorrow.

The BJP had on April 12 alleged that the police team escorting Supriyo had “stood silent spectators during the attack”.

In the counter-complaint, Senapati Mandal accused “Supriyo and others” of attacking him and party workers with arms.

Contacted today, Senapati Mandal iterated his allegations. Asked in which hospital those who suffered “grievous hurt” were admitted, he said they had received treatment “at home”.

Told that television footage did not show any arms, Senapati Mandal said Supriyo had “hidden” it, without specifying the kind of weapon the singer was allegedly carrying. Asked how Supriyo could have attacked him with a weapon if he was hiding it, Senapati Mandal said he was “busy” and cut the call.

Called up again hours later, Senapati Mandal claimed he had mentioned in the police complaint that those accompanying Supriyo, not the singer himself, were carrying arms.

Bamapada Das, the circle inspector of Raniganj who has summoned Supriyo, said: “If he fails to turn up, action will be taken against him.”

State Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury dubbed “unfortunate” the incidents unfolding around Supriyo. “These are signs of the ruling party getting nervous…. He (Supriyo) is a candidate of a rival party but it is clear that Mamata (Banerjee) is worried,” Adhir said.

The CPM’s Sujan Chakraborty said: “Murder charges were slapped against me and Sattar Mollah before the panchayat polls (last year). Similarly, cases are being filed against Babul Supriyo and Adhir Chowdhury, but no action is being taken against Anubrata Mondal.”

Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said “no discrimination will be made on the basis of political colours”.