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  • Published 29.10.14
Mamata Banerjee turns over a page on which she had been sketching after the inauguration of a Jagaddhatri puja at Burrabazar on Tuesday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Calcutta, Oct. 28: The Trinamul Congress today expelled its Bhangar strongman Arabul Islam for six years for his alleged role in the death of two party workers, ending years of indulgence at a time Mamata Banerjee is under attack from multiple fronts.

The plug was pulled three days — lightning action by Trinamul standards — after two party activists were gunned down in Bhangar, a booming belt for real estate syndicates that needed Arabul’s blessings to operate there.

The murders were seen as a fallout of a feud between factions controlled by Arabul and his rivals in the party.

The expulsion announcement was made by Partha Chatterjee, the Trinamul secretary-general once known to be close to Arabul and frequently addressed by the strongman in public as “gurudeb”.

“An internal probe has revealed that Arabul and Jahangir (Khan Chowdhury, an Arabul aide) had a role to play in the recent incidents in Bhangar,” Chatterjee said at Trinamul Bhavan after a meeting of the party’s disciplinary committee, attended by all-India general secretary Mukul Roy and state president Subrata Bakshi.


The allegations against Arabul Islam over the years and how Trinamul had responded then

Slaps officials of Calcutta Leather Complex police station. Attempt-to-
murder case on

TMC response: No disciplinary action


April 22, 2012

Roughs up officials of Kashipur police station

TMC response: No disciplinary action


April 24, 2012

As president of the Bhangar College governing body, Arabul storms the staff room and his tantrums send a jug crashing onto teacher Debjani Dey’s chin, wounding her. Assault case on

TMC response: None from Mamata. Other senior leaders rally behind Arabul


Jan. 6, 2013

Attack on former Left Front minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah who had to
be hospitalised. Attempt-to-murder case on. Arabul spent 44 days in prison

TMC response: Mamata apparently reprimands in private. But in public, party stands by Arabul


Arabul’s men attack CPM protest rally against the attack on Mollah

TMC response: Party stands by Arabul. (“Had we wanted, it would have taken just five minutes to wipe out the CPM,” minister Madan Mitra says)


Storms into classrooms and instructs invigilators to help students with answers during higher secondary English examination at the Narayanpur High School

TMC response: No disciplinary action from the party


Aug. 8, 2014

Arabul’s men ransack Kashipur police station

TMC response: Apparently reprimanded in private. No disciplinary action


The Birbhum Trinamul chief, known for an incendiary speech and now facing flak over the newest killing fields of Bengal. Certified“very good boy” by CM

An MLA linked to the murder of three brothers in an FIR but not named in the chargesheet. Has
found pride of place beside CM at public events

MP delivered a “rape-and-shoot” hate speech. Mamata government tried its best to bury the issue after his apology but was forced to initiate police proceedings. Paul remains an MP

“The disciplinary committee has decided to expel Arabul and Jahangir for six years. The party’s internal probe is on. If more people are found guilty, action will be taken,” Chatterjee added.

The expulsion of Arabul, a former MLA, is one of the toughest disciplinary actions taken by the party since MP Kunal Ghosh was suspended in October, 2013.

However, what stood out today was the timing of the action, considering the manner in which the party leadership had chosen to look the other way as a raft of allegations against Arabul surfaced over the years (see chart). Each time, he was let off after a mild rebuke or warning because of his utility in managing elections, said sources.

The unusual and rapid response this time is being linked to the multitude of problems that have hemmed in the chief minister since the summer Lok Sabha elections.

Saddled with scandals such as Saradha and crises such as the Burdwan blast and political bloodletting in Birbhum — punctuated with numerous other controversies — Mamata appears to be trying to respond to public perceptions and salvage her image.

“It is clear that public pressure forced Mamata Banerjee to take action against Arabul…. Hope there will be more pressure on her and she would also take action against tainted leaders like Anubrata Mondal, Manirul Islam and Tapas Paul,” BJP state president Rahul Sinha said, referring to some of the more controversial Trinamul figures.

Several Trinamul leaders too said in private that if Mamata wanted to send out a message through the expulsion, it should not stop with Arabul.

Arabul was the president of the Bhangar-II Trinamul block committee and his close loyalist Jahangir was one of the presidents of the Bhangar-I block committee.

In an attempt to maintain the balance of power, Kaiser Ahmed, a known Arabul baiter, was removed as the other block committee president (independent charge) of Bhangar-I. Kaiser, however, remains a party member.

Arabul, the undisputed leader in Bhangar, has been controlling the lucrative business of supplying building materials to upcoming projects and land deals for the past few years.

Arabul’s mobile phone was switched off. His son Hakimul, pradhan of Polerhat-I gram panchayat in Bhangar, said: “I should not comment on this issue.”

Trinamul sources said tonight that Mamata was under “tremendous pressure” to act.

The Bhangar strongman had been with Mamata from the early days of Trinamul, but had also had a close rapport with CPM central committee member and former housing minister Goutam Deb.

“Deb had used him to counter his nemesis in the party, Abdur Rezzak Mollah… The backing from Deb had helped him secure a firm footing in Bhangar, which witnessed a sharp jump in real estate activities in the past few years,” said a source.

In Trinamul, Arabul always had the blessings of Roy and Chatterjee, the sources said.

But this time, insiders said, the party leadership had few choices as party workers, not the Opposition, were making the charges against Arabul.

“A slain party worker’s wife said that she was threatened by his supporters. Elected panchayat members fell victim to his muscle-flexing ways. The party has a responsibility towards these workers as well,” said a Trinamul leader. “The murder of a party worker made all the difference.”

Asked whether Arabul’s name would now be added to the FIR, deputy inspector-general of police (presidency range), Subrata Mitra, said: “If during investigation any other person is found involved, his name can be included in the FIR.”