The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Builder lobby link in assault
- Accused denied bail, victim’s family claims rebuff to local contractor sparked showdown

Krishnendu Halder, accused of harassing Sharmistha Ghosh and assaulting her husband Prasenjit, was arrested late on Saturday. He was produced in Howrah court on Sunday afternoon, where his bail petition was rejected.

But the Ghosh family in Bally is not breathing easy, yet. If the fear of a CPM cadre backlash was voiced by each member of the two-storeyed house on GT Road, the same fear silenced the neighbourhood on Sunday.

“I didn’t see anything untoward,” claimed the owner of the tea-stall in front of which Prasenjit Ghosh was punched and kicked by a gang of about 15 CPM supporters late on Thursday for having protested his wife’s harassment and ignored summons to the local party office to “sort out the matter”.

The matter in question was the harassment of Sharmistha by neighbour Halder — who was allegedly taking pictures of her on the sly, sending her offensive text messages and calling her up — and his showdown with husband Prasenjit.

According to the Ghosh family, Halder, a resident of Basirhat, was put up by local CPM leaders in the adjoining multi-storeyed building a year ago. He was working as a superviser in a Bally Municipality water reservoir project.

The family told Metro on Sunday that while Prasenjit’s clash with Halder on October 20 was the climax, the cause of the assault on the 35-year-old engineer on October 26 — while he was being escorted to the CPM’s Palpara office — could be traced back to an earlier face-off.

“We own a plot of land next to our residence that many locals have been eyeing. Sudeb Guha (who has been named in the FIR for the attack on Prasenjit) approached us a couple of years ago when we were planning some construction. He said we must use building material supplied by him. We did not agree to that and dropped the construction plan,” recounted Sharmistha.

That remained a sore point. Prasenjit’s brother Chandrajit said the Halder incident could have been used by Guha and gang as a chance to hit back at the family, which has now asked for police protection against local goons.

A senior home department official said on Sunday that a report had been sought from Howrah superintendent of police Neeraj Singh.

“We picked up principal accused Krishnendu Halder from his Bally house last night and raids are on to arrest the rest,” said Singh. Halder has been remanded in police custody till October 31.

The district CPM leadership in Howrah has ordered a probe to ascertain if party supporters were involved in the ugly incident.

Prasenjit, meanwhile, is recovering from his injuries in a city nursing home. “I really do not know what is going to happen to my eye. The swelling is not subsiding and even the doctors are not being able to say anything definite,” said the former student of Don Bosco Park Circus.

The Opposition parties termed the incident as “yet another proof of CPM’s terror tactics”. Partha Chatterjee, Trinamul Congress MLA and leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, said: “Police are shielding the accused as they are all CPM supporters.”

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