The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bus-loot booty receiver in police net

Ainsmali (Nadia), Feb. 8: A man was arrested after ornaments looted on Wednesday from two buses returning from marriages were found with him even as gory tales of the CPM’s internal rivalries continued to unfold.

Police picked up Hasim Tarafdar from his residence here after recovering some ornaments, including gold bangles and necklaces snatched from the bus passengers, from him. Most of the loot had already been retrieved yesterday from the house of Saidul Karigar, a CPM member and the former pradhan of a gram panchayat.

Police sources claimed that Subal Bagchi, a CPM zonal committee member of Aranghata who was picked up yesterday morning, had said during interrogation that Sultan, the leader of the dacoits, had shot dead Samir Ghosh, the driver of one of the buses. Ghosh, a Citu member, had recognised some of the looters.

Local Congress and Trinamul Congress sources said here that Bagchi, a local schoolteacher, had formed the gang to teach a lesson to his rival and Panikhali local committee secretary Sanath Dhali. One of the buses was returning, with members of the groom’s family, from the wedding of Dhali’s daughter. “The police raid has finished Bagchi and his covert dominance over criminal elements,” said Congress MLA Shankar Singh.

Opposition leaders pointed out that Dhali was close to the state party leadership and had thwarted Bagchi’s efforts to be nominated for the Ranaghat (East) seat during the last Assembly elections. Bengal refugee rehabilitation minister and Hanskhali MLA Nayan Sarkar had assured the police that there would be no interference from the party while the culprits were rounded up.

“This means all of Bagchi’s henchmen like Saidul Karigar and the criminals they sheltered will be behind bars during the panchayat elections, giving a free run to the elements within the CPM, like Dhali, who pander to Alimuddin Street,” Singh said.

Deputy inspector-general of police (Murshidabad range) D.P. Tarenia said some people were trying to give a communal twist to the episode.

“This is not true, I have personally visited the residences of the victims and none of them said there was any communal intent during the attack,” said Tarenia, who denied that any woman had been raped.

However, the claim of senior police officers that there were less than 20 men in the gang is contested by eyewitnesses.

They allege that more than 40 men were involved in the incident, which lasted for more than three hours and stretched well into the early hours of Thursday.

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