By Asim Kumar Mitra
It is no secret now that CPI(M) ministers are above the law and justice of the land. Otherwise how can one explain the fact that two senior ministers of Buddhadev Bhattacharjee'scabinet are officially stated as ?absconders? evading arrests after committing heinous crimes during the past one-and-a-half decade. Two more party leaders who are CPI(M) candidates in the next year'sAssembly elections, accused of rioting and raping tribal girls, are also recorded as ?absconders? in police files since 1986. It seems the days of boasting of high moral standard of the Left politics have taken a back seat to give way to Lalu Prasad Yadav'sstyle of protecting criminal ministers in Bihar. Interestingly, the CPI(M) has forged an alliance with Lalu Prasad'sRJD in the Bihar Assembly elections this time. It is because of this unholy alliance, that the CPI(M) is silent on the issue of unconstitutional dissolution of the Bihar Assembly on the recommendations of the Governor, Shri Buta Singh so far.
Way back on March 27, 1988, Narayan Biswas, West Bengal minister for cottage and small-scale industries, was charged with rioting and arson in a village under Gangarampur police station in South Dinajpur. Twice he applied for bail, twice the lower courts rejected his petitions. Jyoti Basu was then the chief minister of the State and instructions were sent from the chief minister'soffice at Writers? Buildings to the district police authorities not to arrest Biswas even after his bail petitions were rejected. So, he became an ?absconder? at least on police records and has remained so for the past 17 years. He has contested successfully in all the Assembly elections since 1987 and finally Buddhadev Bhattacharjee has inducted him as a minister into his cabinet after the 2001 Assembly elections.
Two more party leaders who are CPI(M) candidates in the next year'sAssembly elections, accused of rioting and raping tribal girls, are also recorded as ?absconders? in police files since 1986. It seems the days of boasting of high moral standard of the Left politics have taken a back seat to give way to Lalu Prasad Yadav'sstyle of protecting criminal ministers in Bihar.
With Assembly elections drawing closer, the Minister decided to file for anticipatory bail in the Kolkata High Court on October 4. In fact he was asked by the party to seek bail following an order of the Election Commission that persons charged with criminal offences and absconding to evade arrest will not be allowed to vote or contest as candidates. Armed with the blessings of top party bosses and the government, Biswas tried to fool the High Court judges by wrong submissions. What happened was quite unprecedented. The Minister'scase was listed on the High Court'scase list as that against one Riyazuddin and others. This was item 90. There was another item 97 in the list against Narayan Biswas and others. The charge was similar. But this Narayan Biswas is not the Minister. He is another person living in Murshidabad district. When item 90 was raised, the State Additional Prosecutor, Asim Goswami, remained silent on the Minister'santecedents. He did not point out that Biswas had been denied bail twice earlier. It was only later that a senior lawyer of the High Court pointed it out to the judges?Justice Aloke Kumar Basu and Justice Pranab Kumar Deb. The judges took exception to the matter and recalled the anticipatory bail order of Biswas. For now, the arrest warrant against the absconding Minister stands. But neither the State administration nor the police is willing to bring the culprit to book defying CPI(M) bosses. So, the absconding Minister is happily attending his office at Writers? Buildings escorted by armed policemen.
Sitting in his Minister'schamber after his bail was rejected by the High Court on October 7, Biswas told reporters that he was no fugitive. ?I am coming to my office everyday. Let the police arrest me if they want to.? However, the Inspector-General of West Bengal Police, Raj Kanojia, who is in-charge of maintaining law and order in the State, said officials were sent to Biswas'slocal address in south Dinajpur and that nobody could tell them his whereabouts.
Another muscle flexing CPI(M) Minister, Susanto Ghosh, accused of killing several political workers of the main opposition party Trinamul Congress in Garbeta in Midnapore in 1989, is also recorded as an ?absconder? in the local police file for the past 16 years. He had secretly surrendered in Garbeta court on September 2 and obtained bail without raising a hue and cry like Biswas. Strangely, no one opposed his bail petition in the court. Another comrade of Biswas in South Dinajpur, Manabesh Choudhury, CPI(M) South Dinajpur Party Secretary, has been charged for rioting and causing grievous hurt in Gangarampur in 1986. The case is still pending in the court and an arrest warrant has been issued against him. But the police has not been able to arrest him till date. He is an absconder in the Gangarampur police record. A third fugitive, Fatey Hembram, also a close aide of Minister Biswas, is accused of raping a tribal girl at Maheshpur in Harirampur police station area. After failing to get justice, the victim committed suicide. The incident occurred on August 26, 2005. He is charged with rape, abatement to suicide and concealment of evidence. The CPI(M) State Party Secretary, Anil Biswas, said the ministers and other leaders of the party could not be asked to step down until and unless they are pronounced guilty by the courts. But who will bring them to court for justice?