The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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In chains over Mamata arrest

Calcutta, Jan. 5: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is in a pickle. Should he ask police to arrest Mamata Banerjee in compliance with a court order or not'

The government and police bosses had a long meeting today on how to handle the arrest warrant Siddhartha Roy Chowdhury, the chief judicial magistrate, Barasat, issued earlier this week in connection with charges of rioting, attempt to murder and damaging public property over a decade ago.

The court requires Mamata to surrender, failing which the police will have to produce her on January 7 when the case comes up for hearing.

“We must carry out the court order, but it has not yet been decided how it will be done,” said chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb.

A section of the CPM leadership is pressing for police action against Mamata, citing the arrests of former CPM minister Narayan Biswas and Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury a while ago.

But, politically, that might be dangerous as it would hand Mamata an issue before the coming Assembly elections.

For the moment, the plan appears to be to seek more time from the court on the plea of a law and order problem. The police are expected to argue before the court that Mamata’s arrest a day before the CPM rally on January 8 is a recipe for trouble.

“The arrest might spark violent protests by Trinamul Congress workers on a day the CPM would be holding the rally,” said a senior officer.

The case against Mamata dates back to February 22, 1994, when a youth, named Gobinda Banerjee, died in police firing. Mamata, then state Youth Congress president, had allegedly incited the crowd.

She has never appeared for the hearings.

It’s not the administration alone that is worried about the possible repercussions ' the issue is expected to be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting of the CPM secretariat.

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