‘An energetic fighter’ and indispensable to Trinamool
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He has been described as an "energetic boy" by the Trinamool Congress's most senior minister, Partha Chatterjee, and as a "fighting leader, the epitome of youth" by transport minister Madan Mitra. The object of their praise, Arabul Islam, has at least 11 criminal cases filed against him and is at the centre of the political violence that has rocked Bhangar in West Bengal's South 24-Parganas district.
Arabul, 47, a former MLA and still in charge of the Trinamool's affairs in Bhangar, has been accused of firing on CPM supporters and injuring three of them, and of leading a mob that set nine vehicles on fire.
Among earlier complaints against him, one is of having assaulted a woman professor in May 2012. Arabul, whose formal education ended with school, was the president of the advisory council for Bhangar Mahavidyalaya. He was arrested for the assault and granted bail within 25 minutes.
His brother Azizul Islam, alias Khude, is named in the chargesheet on the Vedic Village land scandal. It says Azizul connived with alleged kingpin Gaffar Mollah and forced villagers to sell their land at gunpoint. Police had raided the house of Arabul, then Bhangar MLA, in search of his brother. Because of the controversy, Mamata Banerjee had initially kept Arabul out of her candidate list for the 2011 assembly polls but eventually did field him, evidently for want of an alternative. He lost heavily.
The party makes no secret of the fact that it cannot do without him. Someone with the attributes of Yuddhisthira, the Mahabharata character, would not help the party, which needs an "energetic fighter", "a boy" like Arabul, minister Chatterjee told journalists after a meeting with the chief minister. On Tuesday, ministers Mitra, Firhad Hakim and Arup Biswasa, along with party general secretary Mukul Roy, showered praise on Arabul at a public meeting at the site of the firing and arson.