Man who questioned Mamata Banerjee denied bail

The man who dared to question West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s policies towards farmers has been denied bail.

Shiladitya Chowdhury, who had publicly questioned Mamata Banerjee about her government policies towards farmers, was Saturday arrested from West Midnapore district for disrupting a public rally and assaulting police officers.

The bail petition was moved by Chowdhury’s counsel Aswini Mondal at the Jhargram sub-divisional court and subsequently rejected.

“Shiladitya Chowdhury was arrested Saturday morning and booked for disrupting a public rally, entering into a high security zone and assaulting police personnel,” Superintendent of Police, Jhargram, Bharati Ghosh told IANS.

The farmer, who depends on his land for a living after illness forced him to quit his bus conductor’s job six months ago, was remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody by a Jhargram court.

Chowdhury had been sitting in the front row at the Belpahari rally when he stood up, pointed a finger at Mamata, and asked: “Why are we not getting proper prices for paddy? Why are the prices of fertilisers increasing every day? You know well that your promises are not coming true…. Why are you making false promises to poor people like us?”

“Oke dhorun to… ekkhuni dhorun (catch him at once),” the chief minister ordered the police.

As the cops led Shiladitya away, Mamata, who had just accused Maoists of sneaking into the rally ground to create trouble, told the crowd: “Did you see how I caught one of them red-handed?”

The police had initially said the farmer was Duryodhan Mahato, a Maoist active in nearby Binpur where Shiladitya too lives. After six hours’ questioning, they realised it would not be easy to establish any Maoist links in court and set him free.

Forty-something Shiladitya Chowdhury, who owns a one-bigha plot, has been charged with assaulting and injuring government officials three days after the police apparently let him go because they could find no evidence that he was a Maoist, as initially alleged.

Shiladitya has been charged with causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty, assaulting a public servant to deter him from discharging his duty, criminal trespass and criminal intimidation. The first two offences are non-bailable and carry three-year terms.

The police had initially said the farmer was Duryodhan Mahato, a Maoist active in nearby Binpur where Shiladitya too lives. After six hours’ questioning, they realised it would not be easy to establish any Maoist links in court and set him free.

On Friday night, police rushed to Shiladitya’s home in Nayagram village in three vehicles and cordoned off his mud hut, where he lives with his wife, two children and widowed mother.

Officers spent the whole of Saturday mulling over what charges to slap him with. Phone calls were exchanged between the Jhargram police brass and their superiors.

“Shiladitya’s aged mother fell at our feet saying her son had made a mistake by asking the chief minister some questions. She held our hands saying Shiladitya would never repeat the act,” said a constable who was part of the team that raided Shiladitya’s home. “But we were helpless. We had no choice but to pick him up in front of his family.”

Trinamul MP Derek ‘Brien denied the chief minister’s office had instructed the police to arrest Shiladitya. “The police are doing their duty and the law will take its own course,” PTI quoted him as saying.

Mukul Roy said: “He tried to disturb the meeting. He broke the barricade in the Z-plus security zone. He was drunk and pushed police officers and women and used threatening language.”

He added: “Anyone has a right to ask questions. But he did not ask any question. He was just shouting. I was present there.”

Courtesy: http://in.news.yahoo.com

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