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Case against Malda MPs

Malda, Aug. 23: Police have started a case against two Congress MPs from Malda for allegedly taking away lakhs in cash by force from a dargah.

Six constables posted at the dargah on the outskirts of Malda town were beaten up by strongmen accompanying Malda South MP Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury and his niece, Malda North MP Mausam Noor, police said in a suo motu complaint. The supervisor of the dargah has filed a separate complaint.

The MPs have been charged with unlawful assembly, wrongful restraining of persons, causing grievous hurt, assault or using criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging duty, obstructing official duty, violating a court order and theft.

If found guilty, the punishment can range from a month in jail (for wrongful restraining) to 10 years (for causing grievous hurt).

Malda superintendent of police Satyajit Banerjee said the MPs came to the dargah with over 200 supporters around 11am yesterday. They allegedly broke open wooden chests stuffed with donations and took away the money.

The police have also named Mausam’s sister Syeda Noor and local Congress leaders Mostaq Alam and Hasan Ali in their complaint.

A man identified by the police as Phannan Sheikh has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Asked if action would be taken against the MPs, Banerjee refused comment.

Dargah supervisor Sabiul Khan’s complaint says the two MPs and their supporters broke open 11 boxes and decamped with “Rs 15 lakh”.

The constables, posted there after a Calcutta High Court order, were “attacked with sticks and sharp weapons”, the district police chief said.

Mausam said last evening that she visited the dargah, 15km from her family’s Kot-wali home, frequently and had done so yesterday as well. She said she was not aware of any such incident at the dargah, a mausoleum in memory of Pirhana Pir.

Neither Mausam nor Hashem stepped out of home today. “He won’t speak. He is not keeping well,” a help said.

The dargah is a Wakf property. The Wakf Board had appointed two joint mutwalis (caretakers) — Mausam’s mother Ruby Noor and her niece Shenaz Qadri — to manage it.

Sources in the Kotwali said there had been tension between Ruby and her husband’s brother’s daughter Shenaz over running of the dargah.

In 2003, the high court ordered status quo after Shenaz complained that she was not being allowed to participate in the running of the dargah. Ruby died in July 2008.

The sources said the money from the donations went into maintenance, payment of salaries and charity.

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