August 28, 2010

Punjab MLA visits driver accused of bid to kill Mamata

KOLKATA: With a Punjab MLA on Thursday visiting Gurjant Singh, a lorry driver facing the charge of attempting to murder Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on August 9, the case has taken a new turn.

Even as there are reports that several political leaders of Punjab have pleaded Mr. Singh's case with leaders of the Trinamool Congress, MLA Mangat Rai Bansal met Mr. Singh at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) here.

One of the escort vehicles was hit by Mr. Singh's lorry when the convoy of Ms. Banerjee, who was returning after attending a rally at Lalgarh, was re-entering the highway after making an unscheduled stop.

He was immediately detained by the police at Kolaghat in West Bengal's Purbo Medinipur district.

Mr. Singh claimed that he lost control of the truck as the brakes failed. He was arrested on the charge of rash driving and released on bail. However, enraged Trinamool Congress supporters laid a siege to the police station, alleging that Mr. Singh's act was deliberate and part of a conspiracy of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). He was re-arrested after a First Information Report was filed by Trinamool Congress MP Subhendu Adhikari, charging him with attempt to murder.

While Ms. Banerjee has stayed away from Parliament and the public eye claiming that she was suffering from the injuries she sustained in the incident, Mr. Singh has spent the past 10 days in police custody.

The CID is now investigating the matter. “Since the charges levelled against him are very serious, the matter will have to be carefully investigated,” Additional Director-General of CID Raj Kanojia told The Hindu.

Mr. Kanojia said the report from the Regional Transport Office confirmed Mr. Singh's statement that the brakes failed, but the CID was waiting for a conclusive forensic report. Senior CPI(M) leader Mohammed Salim recently raised doubts about Ms. Banerjee's version of the sequence of events.

“She usually demands a CBI probe. Why not ask for one now?” he asked.


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