In a two-and-half-hour blitzkrieg on Tuesday morning, the police rounded up seven mayoral council members responsible for assaulting and heckling commissioner Debasis Som of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).
Of the seven accused, six were arrested from their residences. Only Swapan Samaddar was forced to surrender at the Lalbazar police headquarters a little after noon.
The decision to arrest the seven — all mentioned by name in the FIR Som lodged with New Market thana — was taken late on Monday. At a meeting headed by the deputy commissioner of police (central) Zulfiquar Hasan, the police decided to swoop down on Tuesday morning. “None of the accused had any idea of our plan. When we reached their houses, they were either sipping their morning cups of tea or reading the newspapers. But as news of their arrest spread, sporadic demonstrations and roadblocks were held at several places,” said a police officer. All the accused were sent to the Lalbazar central lock-up.
Around 6 am on Tuesday, a meeting was called at Hasan’s office. The officers-in-charge of six police stations, including Muchipara, Hare Street and New Market, were commissioned for the arrest. It was decided that the raids would be carried out simultaneously. “There was a clear directive that we nab all the accused at any cost,” said an officer in the operation.
The swoop was kicked off around 7.45 am from the house of Pradip Ghosh, one of the accused. “The officers who reached Ghosh’s Muchipara residence entered his house and rounded him up without any resistance,” said Hasan. But as soon as they left Ghosh’s house, his followers thronged Muchipara police station. They also blocked Bowbazar Street and Amherst Street.
Simultaneously, two contingents of police swooped down on the houses of mayoral council members Anup Chatterjee and Mala Roy at Manoharpukur and on Pratapaditya Road. Then it was time for the Bengal police to nab Javed Ahmed Khan. “We had information that Khan was not in his McLeod Street residence. So, we reached his office on Ghulam Jilani Khan Road, in Tiljala, around 9.30 am,” said an officer.
Around 10.30 am, the police reached Metiabruz to net mayoral council members Shamsuzzaman Ansari and Moinul Haque Chowdhury. Both were reading newspapers. Police were stretched to net Swapan Samaddar. The eastern suburban division feared a backlash if he was to be rounded up from a rally he was addressing. “So, we detained his son Sajal for some hours, which forced Samaddar to surrender,” an officer said.