The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Athlete-turned-MP’s husband in vice net

Calcutta, Aug. 16: The husband of CPM member of Parliament and former Asian Games gold medallist Jyotirmoyee Sikdar has been arrested on the charge of running a vice den in Salt Lake, throwing the ruling communists into a full-blown scandal.

Avtar Singh , who is also a former national athlete, was arrested on Independence Day afternoon from Hotel Merlin Park following a raid in which police also found eight couples in different rooms. The three-storeyed, air-conditioned hotel was set up in 2001 on the border of Salt Lake and Rajarhat megacity after filling up a water body.

“We found Singh hiding in a room on the second floor,” said an officer of the Bidhannagar East police station. “It is evident that flesh trading is a regular business at Merlin Park. Large obscene posters were pasted on the walls of the rooms, which are let out to clients with lots of money to burn.”

Singh, hotel manager Sukumar Bagchi and eight others were produced before the sub-divisional magistrate in Barrackpore who remanded them in judicial custody for 14 days. However, Singh was admitted to the B.N. Bose Hospital in Khardah after he complained of uneasiness.

Several phone calls to Sikdar, a celebrated middle-distance runner, in Nadia went unanswered.

The news of Singh’s arrest sent shock waves through the political establishment because of the proximity of Sikdar and Singh to CPM leaders. Sikdar was elected as an MP from Nadia — a district directly controlled by party secretary Anil Biswas.

“We have asked our party unit in North 24-Parganas to probe the matter and ascertain whether Singh was the real owner of Merlin Park,” said Biswas. He said Sikdar had informed him over phone that the raid was an attempt by rivals to frame the couple.

Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, who had organised a lavish reception for Sikdar after her return from the Bangkok Asian Games with two gold medals, distanced himself from them. He denied having a hand in the allotment of land for the hotel.

The officer who led the hotel raid, Humayun Kabir, had carried out a similar operation in Salt Lake stadium — regarded as Chakraborty’s turf — a few years ago and arrested a number of criminals.

See Metro

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