Dipak Shaw, the Trinamul leader accused of threatening lodge owner Sumit Naha before and on the night he was found dead last month, surrendered before a magistrate in Howrah on Wednesday morning.
Shaw had been missing since June 23, the day Naha was found dead in a chair at his Baguiati home. Police said they had no clue to his whereabouts but sources in Trinamul said he was in Howrah all along.
Police sources said Shaw, clad in an off-white shirt and grey trousers, entered the court of the chief judicial magistrate with his lawyer around 10.30am. He sat on a bench at the back of the courtroom until 12.30pm, when his lawyer Sanjay Gupta stood up to inform the magistrate that he wanted to surrender. Gupta simultaneously moved a bail petition that was rejected.
The police immediately took Shaw into custody and put him in the court lock-up.
“Shaw surrendered in court and was remanded in judicial custody (for 14 days). We plan to seek police custody so that we can interrogate him,” said Nishat Parvez, deputy commissioner (headquarters) of Howrah police.
Shaw had allegedly assaulted the manager of Naha’s lodge in Howrah on June 20 over not being allotted a room to use as a pleasure den. Footage from a CCTV camera at the reception of Bridge Lodge shows a man resembling Shaw flipping through the guest register and assaulting manager Asish Manna.
The alleged threat calls to Naha, 49, had started after he asked his newly appointed manager to stop Shaw from entering the lodge because it was harming his business. Riaz Khan, an associate of Shaw, was arrested on June 29 for allegedly intimidating Naha but the prime accused ostensibly remained out of reach.
Trinamul sources said Shaw was in Howrah and local party leaders were in touch with him over the past three weeks, when the police were looking for him there.
“Some party workers visited Shaw’s house in Salkia after local leaders asked them to inform his family that he would have to surrender. The message was that the party wouldn’t protect him any longer,” said a Trinamul leader from Salkia.
Arup Roy, district president of the Trinamul Congress, sought to distance himself and the party from Shaw, a former president of the ward 14 unit. “Our party has nothing do with Shaw and we didn’t know where he was,” Roy said.
While in hiding, Shaw had applied for anticipatory bail but it was rejected on July 14.
Naha’s mother Manju questioned the police’s failure to arrest Shaw for so long. “Shaw was around for the past three weeks but the police could not arrest him despite having the relevant information. This was because he is a Trinamul leader. Had Shaw not surrendered, the police wouldn’t have had him. I hope they do not work under political pressure and pursue the case honestly,” she said.
Manju had lodged a complaint at Baguiati police station, accusing Shaw and his men of using Bridge Lodge as their pleasure den for more than two years.