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TMC arrest in Howrah

- Party leader held in the case of hotelier death

Calcutta, June 29: Police today arrested Riaz Khan, the co-accused in the Bridge Lodge owner Sumit Naha’s murder, from Howrah station.

Khan, a former president of Trinamul Yuva in ward 13 in Howrah, was produced in court and sent to police custody for seven days.

Dipak Shaw, the main accused in Naha’s death, is absconding.

According to officers of the Golabari police station, Riaz was returning to Howrah from Bihar where he had taken shelter after his name surfaced in connection with the death of Sumit Naha, the owner of Bridge Lodge in Howrah last Monday.

Even one week after Naha was found lifeless in a chair in his home in Baguiati after a series of threat calls from Dipak Shaw, the police have not been able to arrest the main accused. According to the police, Riaz would be interrogated to find out about the hideout of Dipak Shaw, the former president of ward 14 of the Howrah Municipal Corporation and the main accused in the death of Naha, 49.

“Riaz and Dipak were close associates and would visit the Bridge Lodge together. In fact Dipak used Riaz’s phone to threaten Naha. Riaz can help us get to Dipak,” said Nishat Parvez, the deputy commissioner (headquarters) of Howrah police.

Riaz, a resident of Pilkhana in Howrah, was a close associate of a CPM leader for whom he worked in the areas around the Howrah station. But as winds of change started to blow over the state, he crossed over to Trinamul just after the general elections in 2009.

In the 2014 general elections, Riaz campaigned for Trinamul candidate Prasun Banerjee in ward 14.

“Riaz would hang around with Dipak who is a close associate of Santosh Sahani, the husband of the local councillor and the ward president. Both of them extorted money from lorries and vans that arrived at the vegetable market in Howrah,” said local Trimanul leader belonging to a rival faction.

Sahani has denied any association with Dipak or Riaz.

Riaz would also accompany Dipak to Bridge Lodge where he had converted a room into his “personal suite” on the ground floor for his pleasure.

“A couple of years ago, Riaz had encroached a space near the lodge that belonged to the government. He was using the place to carry out his business when he learnt about Bridge Lodge and the fact that it was run by managers and the owner of the lodge stayed elsewhere. This is when Dipak and Riaz hatched the plan to use the lodge for their activities,” said an officer of Golabari police station.

The night before Naha was found dead, Dipak used Riaz’s phone to threaten him. The last call was recorded at 10.55pm on Sunday.

Sumit Naha had apparently told his manager, whom he had hired this month itself to put an end to Shaw’s activities in the lodge, to stop Shaw from entering his “pleasure den” as the lodge was incurring losses as one room was always blocked by Shaw.