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Masked Mukul at victim home

Mukul Roy wore a helmet that masked his face, took a 2km detour and rode pillion on a motorcycle to reach the house of slain anti-hooch crusader Sourav Chowdhury on Wednesday afternoon.

Roy, the first Trinamul leader to visit the 22-year-old’s house at Bamangachhi in North 24-Parganas would not admit that the choice of vehicle and the decision to wear the headgear were aimed at avoiding villagers’ protests, but party insiders later admitted that the “trick had worked”.

Roy arrived unnoticed and an assembly of women outside Sourav’s house recognised the man in white kurta-pyjama only after he took off the helmet. They tried to stop Roy but failed.

“It would have been embarrassing had he faced a serious protest,” said a Trinamul leader, who was present at a rally barely 200 metres from Sourav’s house.

When asked why he came riding a motorcycle, Roy told Metro: “I did not want to come here in a car.” Why did he have to hide his face wearing a helmet? “It was to protect my head, you know it’s a rule.”

Trinamul leaders had first tried to malign Sourav, saying he was the victim of an affair gone wrong. When the smear campaign failed, they tried to claim him as one of their own. But that led to questions why no Trinamul leader cared to call on the bereaved family.

Friday’s visit, two days after prime accused Shyamal Karmakar’s arrest, was apparently aimed at rebutting such allegations.

While planning Roy’s visit to Bamangachhi, Trinamul leaders must have been extra cautious to avoid a repeat of the public relations disaster that followed Mamata Banerjee’s visit to the house of a college girl who had been raped and killed in Kamduni, North 24-Parganas.

The chief minister had to face the wrath of village women after she stepped out of the house, prompting her to dub some of the protesters Maoists.

Roy got off his Scorpio at a petrol pump on Jessore Road, nearly half a kilometre from the spot where the party had called a rally to protest the murder of Sourav. Around 3.20pm, he set out on his “undercover” venture.

“He donned the full-masked helmet with tinted glass and rode pillion of a motorcycle that took a narrow village road to reach Sourav’s house. Nine partymen on three other bikes followed him,” said a Trinamul leader.

None of Roy’s colleagues was wearing a helmet.

The group of around 10 women outside Sourav’s house tried to block Roy’s path, saying: “Aapni jaben na Sourav-er baritey. Aamra rajneeti chai na (Don’t go to Sourav’s house. We don’t want politics)”.

Some of the women ran towards the house, asking someone to shut the door. But the Trinamul workers with Roy moved swiftly. One of them opened the grille-gate and made way for their leader.

After spending 10 minutes with Sourav’s family, Roy came out. The assembly of women outside had grown in size by then. “We don’t want any politics over the death of our boy,” said Purnima Adhikary, one of Sourav’s neighbours.

Roy waved his hands and said: “I am a father and I can feel the pain of Sourav’s father.” Some of the Trinamul workers started clapping. “Don’t clap here. I have come to a place where a young boy was murdered,” Roy chided them.

With folded hands, Purnima requested Roy not to add political colour to Sourav’s death. “I will shortly deliver a speech (at the rally) and you will find no political word there,” Roy promised the protesters.

Minutes later, he began his speech describing Sourav as “a comrade of the Trinamul student wing”.

“Some people are demanding a CBI probe. What did the CBI do in the Chhoto Angaria case, Gnaneswari Express tragedy and the Nobel theft case? Keep faith in police who have already arrested all the accused,” Roy said.

Sourav’s father Saroj, who has demanded a CBI probe, later said: “He assured me that the killers would get exemplary punishment.”