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Once bitten, too risky to take chances

Babul Supriyo after his interrogation on Thursday

April 20: Babul Supriyo, the BJP candidate in Asansol, today said he would surrender in court on Tuesday and seek bail in a case related to a blockade on National Highway 60, fearing that he “might get arrested”.

Suspected BJP supporters had obstructed the NH60 stretch in Raniganj for around two hours after the singer was assaulted by suspected Trinamul activists during a road show on April 12.

Supriyo, who has been “hastily” charged under the Arms Act although no weapon was found on him after the altercation with a Trinamul leader in Raniganj on April 12, today said from Mumbai: “I had sought the opinion of the BJP’s legal cell. The lawyers told me to surrender in court and obtain bail to avoid arrest. The way the Trinamul Congress has been targeting me, I might get arrested on the eve of the polls. So, I need to obtain the bail. Let’s see what happens.”

The BJP candidate, who was in his car when the blockade was put up, added that the protest was organised by “common people who love me”.

Supriyo said he pacified the protesters when he found that police were unable to control the situation, adding that senior officers shook hands with him and video-recorded the entire incident.

The BJP candidate has been charged under Section 8B of the National Highways Act, 1956, a non-bailable offence that carries a maximum punishment of five years in jail.

A criminal lawyer of Asansol ACJM court, Shekhar Kundu, explained: “This particular section of the NH Act is too harsh on Babul Supriyo. Even though he was present during the protest on the road, the agitators did not cause any damage to the highway that could have rendered it unsafe for travelling.”

Asked if he would also surrender in the case lodged against him under the Arms Act, Supriyo said: “The legal cell of the BJP has not told me what I should do in the Arms Act case.”

The district president of the BJP in Asansol, Nirmal Karmakar, said the party’s legal cell had advised Supriyo to surrender in the road block case as it was filed suo motu by the police. “We think that the case relating to the Arms Act will be withdrawn by the police itself. We are not thinking about it at the moment.”

A police officer in Raniganj said they were satisfied with Supriyo’s two-hour interrogation on Thursday. “We are not planning to question him immediately in the arms case,” the officer said.

Denying the allegation that Trinamul was “targeting” him, a party leader in Asansol said a section of workers was not happy with the arms complaint lodged against Supriyo and his subsequent interrogation by the police as that gave him “undue publicity”.