Arabul's arrest: Mamata's rajdharma or eyewash?

Kolkata, Jan 19 (IANS) Days after top party leaders heaped praise on him for his "fighting ability", Trinamool strongman and former legislator Arabul Islam was arrested for allegedly attacking veteran CPI-M leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah.

This has taken political circles in West Bengal by surprise.

Trinamool ministers, who had earlier backed Arabul despite the criticism in the media and by civil society following the attack on former state minister Mollah, were restrained in their reactions. But they lost no time in describing the development as an example of the impartiality of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

"Banerjee has only followed "Rajdharma" by getting Arabul arrested," said transport and sports minister Madan Mitra, who had earlier announced that the party was with Arabul, a former state lawmaker from Bhangar in South 24 Parganas.

Industries minister Partha Chatterjee, who had lauded Arabul as an "energetic boy" after the Jan 6 violence that left Mollah in hospital with multiple injuries, said "The law will take its own course".

The opposition Communist Party of India - Marxist (CPI-M), which had hit the streets in a big way across the state demanding punishment for those who severely beat up Mollah, seemed a trifle on the backfoot. But party leaders dubbed the move as "belated" and only "the first step" in bringing the guilty to book.

CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat, who called on Mollah at the hospital Thursday, demanded that the law should take its course.

"We have been demanding for nearly two weeks that those responsible for the attack on Mollah should be arrested. This (Arabul's arrest) is only the first step, a beginning," he said.

"We want the law to take its full course. Justice should be done. We will see if it (the arrest) is being followed up," he said.

Ex CPI-M MP Sujon Chakraborty, now secretary of the party's South 24 Parganas district, said: "If Arabul is released after two-three days, then we have to say this is only an eyewash," he said.

Mollah was severely beaten up allegedly by Trinamool workers led by Arabul when he went to Bamanghata area under Bhangar where a CPI-M office had been damaged.

The disturbances stretched to Jan 8 when a number of political activists were injured in firing and clashes between the Trinamool and CPI-M.

Arabul was picked up by the police Jan 17, quite a distance from his base in Bhangar. Cases were slapped on him under 11 sections of the Indian Penal Code, five of which were non-bailable. The charges included attempt to murder.

A sub-divisional court later remanded him to police custody for five days, but on Friday night Arabul complained of chest pain and was admitted to hospital.

But the question doing the rounds in political discussions is why Mamata Banerjee, who herself holds the police portfolio, gave the go-ahead for the police action against Arabul, especially since this is not the first time that he has courted controversy. Also, for years, the CPI-M has been accusing him of resorting to violence against its cadres.

Last April, Arabul was accused of flinging a water-filled jug at a woman professor of Bhangar College after an altercation, and he had to seek bail.

But the party leadership stood by him, and panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee held a media meet at the state secretariat attempting to show the professor in poor light.

Political circles believe that the Trinamool government decided to arrest Arabul this time to take the wind out of the sails of the CPI-M, which was trying to recover lost ground by campaigning big on the attack on Mollah.

Also, in the aftermath of the clashes, state governor M.N. Narayanan had virtually rapped the government, saying ""This is not a good political culture. I think some sort of goondaism is going on here."

Besides, Mollah is one of the seniormost MLAs in the state, who has won every election since 1971, and one who proudly calls himself a "Chashir beta" (son of a farmer). Despite being the land and land reforms minister during the Left Front government, he time and again opposed Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's policy of acquiring agricultural land for big industries. He has even criticised the party leadership time and again over the past couple of years.

Naturally, the attack on such a grassroot level leader did not go down well with the people, and a section of the media and the civil society have been tearing the reputation of the Mamata Banerjee administration to shreds with scathing remarks over the violence.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have been able to purchase batting replacements for the loss of Michael Hussey and spin reinforcements in the form of Samuel Badree. They appear… More »

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »