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Police skip accused custody

Calcutta, May 13: Police did not seek custody of the 12 persons arrested in connection with the bomb-and-bullet attack on CPM supporters in Haroa yesterday, following which they were sent to 14 days’ judicial custody.

The North 24-Parganas police’s decision not to seek custody of the accused despite booking them under serious charges such as attempt to murder and provisions of the Arms Act was questioned by many officers and the Opposition.

Assistant public prosecutor Jadu Nath Ghosh opposed the bail plea of the 12 accused at the Basirhat ACJM court, but did not seek police remand.

He refused comment when asked why he didn’t.

The 12 persons arrested yesterday include the son of local Trinamul MLA Usharani Mondal, whose husband Mrityunjoy had allegedly led the attack. The MLA and her husband are absconding.

Apart from the Arms Act and attempt to murder charges, the police have also started cases of voluntarily causing grievous hurt, rioting with deadly weapons and illegal confinement. The charges bring a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail.

Suspected Trinamul workers had yesterday hurled bombs and fired at a group of 250-odd CPM supporters heading to a polling station in Haroa, leaving 21 injured.

Five CPM supporters were hospitalised, one with a grazing wound on her leg.

Asked why the police did not seek custody of the 12, North 24-Parganas police superintendent Tanmay Ray Chaudhuri said today: “We had brought strong charges against the accused. If the court lets them go, it’s not our fault.”

The officer, however, refused comment on why the police did not ask the government lawyer to seek police custody.

Police officers The Telegraph spoke to wondered why the cops in North 24-Parganas did not seek custody of the 12.

“Since the police there have charged the accused with attempt to murder and provisions under the Arms Act, they should have interrogated the arrested persons to find out if they had weapons with them. This would have given the police the opportunity to question the accused and get leads on those who are absconding,” said a Calcutta police officer not associated with the Haroa investigation.

The CPM also questioned the police’s decision. CPM district secretary Gautam Deb said: “The police have deliberately avoided seeking custody of the 12 following instructions from their political bosses. We will move the high court against today’s order.”

Asked about the allegation, food minister and the Trinamul observer for North 24-Parganas, Jyotipriya Mullick, said: “We never interfere in police affairs. Let the law take its own course.”

Today, 12 armed constables from Doltala police lines in North 24-Parganas led by a sub-inspector of Haroa police station were posted at the Brahmanchak Free Primary School, around 300 metres from the area where the CPM supporters were attacked.

Police teams patrolled the borders of Brahmanchak village through the day, but did not allegedly enter it.