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Babul charged under Arms Act

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 while the singer was campaigning.

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 although he has been accused in a murder case.

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

Television footage had shown Senapati Mandal pushing Supriyo and a Trinamul activist trying to drag the BJP candidate by the collar. Supriyo was seen telling Mandal that he was an elderly person and should not behave like that.

Based on a complaint filed by Supriyo, the police have started cases against Mandal and others of theft, assault and preventing a candidate from campaigning. The theft charge was brought because one person was seen snatching a badge from the shirt of one of the BJP leaders accompanying Supriyo.

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.

“It is very surprising that the police have started a case without verification under the Arms Act against me and also slapped charges such as beating up Trinamul workers and causing grievous hurt,” he said.

“It was clear from the 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,” the singer added.

Supriyo said Trinamul had brought the charges against him because of “political compulsion” but the “police should have verified the facts before starting a case”.

“Apart from being a BJP candidate I am also a public figure. Trinamul workers assaulted me and two BJP leaders when we had gone to Raniganj to campaign on April 12 and I have already lodged complaints with the police and the Election Commission,” Supriyo said after filing 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, Trinamul leader Senapati Mandal accused “Supriyo and others” of attacking him and party workers with arms.

Contacted today, Senapati Mandal iterated his allegation that Supriyo attacked him and the Trinamul activists with arms. Asked in which hospital those who suffered “grievous hurt” were admitted, Senapati Mondal said the “injured” Trinamul activists 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 weapons 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.

On April 12, Senapati Mandal had accused Supriyo of bursting crackers and shouting slogans in front of his house and assaulting Trinamul workers when they protested.

A police officer said it was not necessary to arrest a person booked under the Arms Act.

Bamapada Das, the circle inspector of Raniganj who has summoned Supriyo, said: “We have started a case under Arms Act following a complaint lodged against him by Trinamul block president Senapati Mandal. We have also started a case of stealing, assaulting and preventing Supriyo from campaigning against Mandal on the basis of the complaint lodged by Supriyo. Supriyo has been summoned for interrogation and if he fails to turn up, action will be taken against him in accordance with the law.”

State Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury dubbed “unfortunate” the incident unfolding around Supriyo. “These are signs of the ruling party getting nervous. The ruling party is anxious and Babul has become a cause of concern. The same thing happened with me. He is a candidate from 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”.

“He (Supriyo) can be a singing star but without knowing whether he has the qualities of being a political star, I cannot stand by him. The law will take its own course,” Chatterjee said.