| Adhir Chowdhury steps out of the police van looking for support. Picture by Amit Datta
Behrampore, Nov. 28: Adhir Chowdhury was produced in court and remanded in jail custody, but Behrampore did not turn into a battlefield.
Police had thrown a cordon a kilometre off the chief judicial magistrate's court.
At 11 am, a convoy of four prison vans and a police jeep, led by a red Maruti Gypsy, rolled into the compound.
A small group of people, gathered at the far end of the premises, held its breath in anticipation. As minutes went by, the crowd began to fidget. Suddenly, around 11.25 am, the stillness was broken ' by another convoy of prison vans and police jeeps.
Accustomed to working crowds, Chowdhury stepped out of a prison van into the sun-washed compound and cried 'Vande mataram', expecting to hear the familiar roar echoing the call.
No one moved, not a voice was heard. Chowdhury gave another full-throated cry, 'Adhir Chowdhury ke greftar korey Congress ke domano jabena (it will not be possible to suppress the Congress by arresting Adhir Chowdhury)'.
The small crowd made up of lawyers, policemen and court employees simply looked at the Behrampore MP.
Then, all of a sudden, a woman screamed 'Adhir Chowdhury zindabad'.
He waved back her. 'I am his fan and came here to have a look at him,' said Krishna Chakraborty, a Congress supporter from Calcutta.
Three lawyers led by Milan Mukherjee of Calcutta High Court were there to appear on behalf of the MP, but those belonging to the local court asked them not to hold his brief today because of an ongoing boycott by members of the Behrampore Bar Council.
Chowdhury argued for himself. 'How is it possible that the FIR says that two people were shot dead but the police have not lodged any arms case. An accused, Tapan Basu, was arrested from Bajarsow, 7 km from Behrampore. But the witnesses to the arrest are residents of Kada. How can that be' he asked.
A.K. Pal, the chief judicial magistrate, heard the MP plead for bail before remanding him in jail custody till December 3.
Chowdhury was arrested from his official residence in Delhi on November 19 in connection with the murders of Hanif Sheikh and his son Laltoo in July.
Behrampore wore a bandh-like look today as gun-toting policemen stood on guard. Unable to go anywhere near the court, about 30,000 Congress supporters assembled at three places on NH 34, throwing traffic out of gear.