I was asked to give false statement: Witness
TMC worker who deposed in Parui lady case recounts what happened after he met leader on way home
- Published 9.07.15
Suri, July 8: Police last evening produced two witnesses in the case relating to the arrest of a Parui woman, who had accused cops of torture, for taking part in a roadblock and allegedly hurling bombs.
Hours earlier, the chief minister had said when asked about the slapping of charges under stringent sections of the Explosive Substances Act: "Definitely there is something. Otherwise why would the police take action against her?"
The sections invite a maximum punishment of death or life imprisonment.
This newspaper spoke to one of the two witnesses - both are Trinamul activists from Sattor - who filed their confidential statements before a magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC.
The 50-year-old mason, Mozammil Mondal, said he had been coerced by his local leadership into filing the statement.
The following is an account of Mozammil:
I was going home from work in the afternoon yesterday when I came across Sheikh Akbar (the son of Trinamul district committee member Sheikh Mostafa and an accused in the alleged torture of the Parui woman). He asked me to join him for a trip to Suri for repairing his vehicle. He had to get it painted too, he said. I told him to go without me because I was tired, but he insisted. So I went with him. On the way, we picked up Ambia Mondal (the other witness, who could not be reached for comment by this newspaper).
When we reached Suri, the car was taken to a place near a court, where two policemen seemed to be waiting for us. Later, we learnt it was the chief judicial magistrate's court.
Realising that we were getting into some trouble, Ambia and I got scared and demanded to know from Akbar what he was up to. He assured us that it was no big deal and said the party needed a small favour from us.
As he went on to explain what the nature of the favour was - a false statement against the woman and the others arrested on Saturday - I got scared. It was too big an assignment for a poor man like me. I am afraid of the law and the police. Ambia was scared too, but he had more faith in the leadership for protection.
Akbar and the two policemen kept trying to convince me to say before a magistrate that I was near the place of the protest, that I saw a bomb blast with my own eyes and I also saw the accused people hurl bombs. I reasoned with them, telling them that the lie would be exposed as I was at least 10km from the place of the protest. But Akbar kept on insisting.
I was still unwilling. When I tried putting my foot down and said no, Akbar said: "The consequences could be dire for you and your family." In the place where we live, such threats are to be taken seriously. I feared for the life of my son and wife. I obliged.
Ambia was already willing. He even told me that nothing was likely to go wrong and the party would look after us.
We were then taken to one of the judges (Suri judicial magistrate II Surajit Ghosh) in the court. The judge was the only person in the chamber. There were no police or party leader inside.
I gave the judge a version that was slightly different from what Akbar wanted me to say. I told the judge I was not that far away from the site of the roadblock and though I did not see anything or anybody, I heard an explosion that sounded like a bomb blast. The judge wrote down everything I said and released me.
After me, Ambia went into the room to give his statement. I don't know what he told the judge.
When we were through, Akbar again approached me outside the court and requested me to sign a blank sheet of paper. I knew how bad an idea that was and told him I would not do it even if he killed me. He even went to the extent of promising me a new house from panchayat funds. But I did not budge from my stand.
After about 20 minutes of persistence, when he saw that I wouldn't, he gave up and sent me home. I don't know what the paper was going to be about.
In hindsight, I am not at all comfortable with what I had to do. But it was unavoidable. I am only praying that I don't get into any more trouble.
Akbar denies charge
Akbar said the allegations made by Mozammil were false. "These are not true. The BJP put pressure on him to say all these things. The BJP is threatening Ambia too," he said.