The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cuffs, bail in tease trail
- Five accused of assault surrender under party pressure, walk free

A black SUV screeched to a halt near the back gate of the chief judicial magistrate (CJM)’s court in Howrah around 2 pm. Five men, accused in the Bally harass-and-hit case, got off and slipped into the court in a flash.

The next 30 minutes on Thursday afternoon saw a flurry of activity, with the five accused — Shankar Maitra, Sudeb Guha, Rabi Bose, Sambhu Mullick and Anuj Dhole — appearing before CJM Debasish Dutta, moving a bail application and then walking free by 2.30 pm.

“Our chief minister has openly criticised the incident in which some of our supporters were involved. Today, they surrendered before the court,” said CPM’s Howrah North MLA Lagandeo Singh.

The faction-ridden CPM unit in Howrah has been in a spot since a gang of around 15 supporters roughed up Prasenjit Ghosh on the night of October 26 for protesting his wife’s harassment.

In an obvious show of strength, senior CPM leaders and supporters escorted the five accused from the Howrah Corporation building to the CJM’s court. Hundreds of others gathered at other strategic spots, like Sarat Sadan.

“Pressure from the party high command is the reason behind the surrender, but a section is firmly behind the accused,” said a CPM leader.

If the Howrah court was in the spotlight in the afternoon, Bally police station hogged the limelight in the evening by unveiling four other harassers of Sharmistha Ghosh, arrested from Kalyani.

“Police have done what they should be doing… I don’t want to instruct them. I want them to perform and then tell me,” said Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings.

On Thursday, the investigating officers in the controversial case had a lot to tell the chief minister, following the surrender of five men accused of assaulting Prasenjit and four students of Kalyani Government Engineering College charged with harassing and teasing wife Sharmistha.

“Biswajit Murmu, Benoy Sahu, Prasanta Majumder and Nishan Kothari were arrested on the basis of cellphone caller lists,” said superintendent of police Neeraj Kumar.

After spending a week in a nursing home, Prasenjit was back at his GT Road residence on Thursday, But the joy of homecoming was tinged with the fear of future attacks.

“The accused of the assault are out on bail and their party supporters are with them… We are concerned about our future in the locality. Our plea to the chief minister is to save us from his party cadre,” said Prasenjit, who has sought an appointment with Bhattacharjee.

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