Trinamul MLA Arjun Singh stands in front of his Toyota Fortuner that was stopped by the police on Wednesday. Picture by Bhabatosh Chakraborty
Calcutta, June 4: Police looking for a criminal stopped a Trinamul MLA’s SUV on the northern fringes of Calcutta tonight, triggering an outburst by the legislator and prompting his aides to block a road and train tracks.
Bhatpara MLA Arjun Singh, who was travelling on BT Road in a black Toyota Fortuner, alleged that the police had hatched a conspiracy to harass him.
The MLA alleged that a policeman had pointed a gun at his driver and told him to roll down the window. The SUV, which did not have a beacon, had jumped a signal, the police said. They added that the car had tinted glass, which is illegal.
According to his affidavit, the MLA is accused in 62 cases, including attempt to murder. In Trinamul circles, he is counted among those opposed to the party’s all-India general secretary Mukul Roy. The political turfs of Roy and Singh, whose seat Bhatpara falls in North 24-Parganas, overlap.
The police said the team led by assistant commissioner of the Barrackpore commissionerate, Kalyan Sarkar, had apologised to Singh.
The police said that according to the tip-off they had received, the criminal they were planning to arrest was also travelling in a black SUV and two of its numbers matched those of the MLA’s car.
After his car was stopped near Barranagar around 8pm, Singh, who was apparently been accompanied by three or four others, got off and started shouting at the policemen.
“In this area, everyone knows my car. An officer pointed a gun at my driver and abused him even after he said it was my car and I was inside. This is a conspiracy on the part of the police to harass me,” Singh told this newspaper later.
The police said that as soon as the SUV was stopped, the driver rolled down the window and told the cops to remove the barricade immediately. When the police refused to do so, Singh alighted and shouted: “What sort of checking is this? If they treat an MLA in this manner, what will be the condition of common people?”
He called up a senior officer of the Barrackpore commissionerate and someone in Trinamul and alleged that he was being harassed by the police.
“I will take up the matter with the party and also lodge a complaint with the Barrackpore commissioner tomorrow,” he said before leaving.
Senior officers not associated with the case said the police had the authority to check any car if they had a specific tip-off. “Nobody is above the law. If there is a specific tip-off, the police can stop the car of even an MP or an MLA and search it without a warrant,” a Calcutta police officer said.
Barrackpore police said that according to their tip-off, the criminal was leaving Calcutta in a black SUV and was entering their area. The police denied having pointed a gun at the car.
“When the black Fortuner jumped a signal near Tobin Road, we thought it could be the criminal’s car and stopped it. It was a misunderstanding on our part and our officers apologised to the MLA,” a senior officer of the commissionerate said.
The police said they could not ascertain the identities of those who were accompanying Singh.
Shortly after Singh left, his supporters blocked BT road near Titagarh and tracks at Kankinara railway station for close to 20 minutes. A Naihati-bound local train from Sealdah got held up at Kankinara, inconveniencing thousands of home-bound passengers.
Two-time MLA Singh’s name had cropped up in connection with the arrest of Trinamul leader Shibu Yadav for allegedly trying to burn alive two journalists who had gone to report a Trinamul factional clash in Bhatpara last year.