Trinamul to rally behind accused

Calcutta, Jan. 17: The Trinamul Congress will stand behind Arabul Islam and support him, just as it had done after the alleged attack on Abdur Rezzak Mollah and the convoy carrying CPM supporters, the ruling party said today.

"We gave a Calcutta Chalo (march to Calcutta) call to protest the attack on our party workers across the state, including on Arabul. That programme is still on. Our supporters will start walking from Sealdah, Howrah, Shyambazar five-point crossing and Hazra and assemble at Metro Channel (on Saturday)," said Mukul Roy, Trinamul's all-India general secretary.

Roy and ministers Madan Mitra and Firhad Hakim were part of a Trinamul procession in Bhangar on January 9 in support of Arabul.

The Trinamul leadership has instructed all local units to organise rallies in their areas on Saturday.

Trinamul sources said the leadership was "banking on" the arrest of Arabul to "help the party and the government refurbish its image, which took a beating after the spate of violence in Bhangar". The violence had prompted governor M.K. Narayanan to say "goondasim" was prevailing in the state.

After Arabul's arrest, Trinamul leaders were quick to point out that the administration was not being dictated by the party.

"This is Mamata Banerjee. She did not consider political colour before taking action," minister Mitra said. "The law will take its own course."

The minister refused comment when asked why the police took more than 11 days to arrest Arabul.

Trinamul leaders said Mamata was reluctant to take action against Arabul considering his clout in the area and the upcoming panchayat polls. "She had to take this decision (Arabul's arrest) as criticism was mounting," a minister close to Mamata said.

While leaving Writers', the chief minister refused comment when asked about Arabul's arrest.

The Trinamul leaders said the arrest did not mean that the party would not stand behind the controversial former MLA. In the past few days, the party had organised a series of protest marches across the state against the "CPM attack on Arabul on January 8 and attempts to malign the state government".

"The CPM is trying to extract mileage from the attack on Mollah. Arabul's arrest will help us counter this campaign," a Trinamul general secretary said.

Minister Mitra warned the CPM against "trying to take advantage" of Arabul's absence in Bhangar. "If the CPM tries to create problems in Bamanghata (in Bhangar), we will reach there. If the CPM feels that in the absence of Arabul, they can disturb Bhangar, we will bring out rallies there. They are wrong if they think that violence will help them in the panchayat polls," he said.

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