January 9, 2013

Why Mamata puts up with Arabul Islam

By Monotosh Chakraborty, TNN | Jan 8, 2013, 01.44 AM IST

BHANGAR: The attack on CPM veteran Abdur Rezzak Mollah has bared the underbelly of the gory politics in the bheri lands (wetlands) of South 24-Parganas.

Bhangar, a mere 28km from the city, was under the writ of Mollah's party for years. Now, Trinamool Congress strongman Arabul Islam calls the shots.

Arabul, a former MLA, is the prime accused in the attack on Mollah - yet another criminal charge in a long list of pending cases, from criminal intimidation to attempt-to-murder. According to police, none of the cases have been dropped though Arabul has got bail in some.

The CPM has demanded his arrest within the next 24 hours. "We will wait for the administration to act by Tuesday noon. Else we will stage a dharna in front of the police superintendent's office," said Leader of the Opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra.

The condemnation of Arabul across political lines has come as a ray of hope to a woman from Bhangar, who was driven out of her home and hearth in August and forced to take shelter in New Town, Rajarhat, with her husband.

"Some men, led by Arabul, beat me up at Satulia bazar in front of everyone, tore off my sari and blouse, and attacked my private parts. They dragged me to the local dumping ground thinking I was dead. That was on August 28," she told TOI on Monday. She went to Kashipur police station to lodge a complaint but in vain. "Police did not initiate an inquiry till I moved Alipore court. On hearing my complaint, the chief judicial magistrate directed the officer-in-charge to start a case," she said.

While the traumatized woman had to wait till October for the police to start an inquiry, the man who is accused of "leading the attack" is unfazed. "I do not know of any such complaint. You can check with the local police," said Arabul.

Kashipur Police, however, recognised the complaint. "Yes, a complaint was made by (TOI is withholding the name) though her injury report doesn't confirm all the elements of the complaint, or Arabul's having a hand in it," a police officer said. But he has not sent the report to the court, saying the complaint is untrue.

The entire episode goes against the chief minister's directive to police to take a complaint as and when a victim comes to the police station.

However, the rules of the game changed when a woman known to Arabul went to Kashipur police station to complain about a family dispute. While the sub-inspector on duty took a few minutes to record the complaint, Arabul angrily stepped into the police station and slapped the officer. This was within days of the molestation complaint lodged against the Trinamool leader. As usual, the police officer bore with the assault.

The Trinamool chief - who showed "zero tolerance" to pay leaders Meer Taher Ali and the others who swayed with girls and showered money on them at the party's foundation day at Bhangar - has been bearing with Arabul for long. Is it because Mamata needs Arabul for the coming panchayat polls?

Mamata's infinite tolerance for this infamous leader from Bhangar has raised questions even among Trinamool circles. There was not a word of caution from the Trinamool leadership when Arabul, the president of Bhangar College, barged into the staff room in April last year and allegedly threw a jug full of water at lecturer Debjani Dey.

Former Union minister Saugata Roy gave vent to his disgust at a meeting of college principals held at Ashutosh College. Trinamool minister Rabi Ranjan Chattopadhyay had also spoken against Arabul. However, the CM kept mum while education minister Bratya Basu threw his weight behind Arabul.

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