The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt gets time, officer stick

Calcutta, Jan. 7: The Bengal government has gained time till February 27 to arrest Mamata Banerjee but not before Calcutta police cut a sorry figure in court.

The premier law-enforcement force in the state was compelled to plead in court today that since Mamata, wanted in a case of rioting in 1994, is continuously moving in different parts of Bengal, the Barasat police should be asked to arrest her.

Taking exception to the city police’s stand, the Barasat chief judicial magistrate, Siddharta Roy Chowdhury, said: “The police officer (deputy commissioner, headquarters), by making such submission, tried to avoid the order of the court and transfer the responsibility on to his other colleagues. This kind of attitude from police is not acceptable.”

The court also issued an explicit order to the officer to execute the warrant against Mamata. “The deputy commissioner (headquarters) is directed to arrest Banerjee and others and produce them before this court on or before February 27, 2006,” the order said.

Worried about the possibility of a violent backlash and eager to deny Mamata a weapon in the run-up to the approaching Assembly elections, the CPM had yesterday made it clear that she would not be arrested. “We cannot help if the police face flak from the court,” CPM leader Jyoti Basu had said ' with remarkable clairvoyance, as it turned out today.

Home secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy said at Writers’ Buildings that he would comment on the course of action only after going through the exact court order on Monday. The government seems to be banking on the possibility of court adjournments so that it can avert a showdown till the elections are over.

Mamata, who was very much present at her Kalighat home today, repeated that she would not surrender. “Why should I surrender'” she asked. “This is a heinous conspiracy by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government to malign me.”

The Trinamul Congress leader said she has not received any summons so far.

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