In a dawn swoop on Friday, the police rounded up 21 armed youths from Pailan Park, in Bishnupur, on the southern fringes of the city. The Matador van they were in was impounded.
The police said a passing patrol spotted the Matador parked near a house around 5 in the morning. Initially, according to Bishnupur police station officer-in-charge (OC) P.K. Dutta, the youths claimed they had come to work as labourers in a local factory. Sustained interrogation and a search of the van gave the police quite another picture.
“We found they were not labourers but had assembled on the spot from areas as diverse as Kasba, Lakshmikantapur and Pathar Pratima,” OC Dutta said. The search of the van yielded half a dozen pistols, 10 country-made revolvers and a huge quantity of bomb-making material.
The arrests sparked tension in the area. District CPM secretary Santimoy Bhattacharya claimed the youths were deployed by the Trinamul Congress to create trouble in Bishnupur during Sunday’s panchayat elections. Local Trinamul MLA Dilip Mondal hotly denied the charge.
Additional superintendent of police (industrial) R.K. Singh said the arrested youths will not be released before the election. “We have recovered arms from them, so there is no question of releasing them immediately. Political affiliation will not sway the cases against them, ” Singh said.