TMC strongman held for attack on Mollah

Eleven days after the attack on CPM MLA Abdur Rezzak Mollah in South 24 Parganas district, Trinamool Congress strongman Arabul Islam was arrested on Thursday. He has been sent to police custody till January 21.

"Arabul was arrested because Didi (CM Mamata Banerjee) wanted him to be arrested. There are two FIRs lodged against him. Police have done their work and Didi never wanted to influence the police administration," said senior minister Partha Chatterjee. Earlier, soon after the January 6 violence, Chatterjee had defended Arabul as a "very energetic party leader".

Mollah, who is still in hospital, said he was happy with the development. "We are happy that Arabul has been arrested but he should have been arrested earlier," said CPM general secretary Prakash Karat who was in the city on Thursday.

Speaking to the media after his arrest, Arabul said: "Bullets were fired at me by (CPM zonal secretary) Sattar Mollah. But I have been arrested. After this, TMC men in Bhangar will decide whether there will be peace." Hundreds of his supporters in Bhangar took to the streets to protest his arrest.

Besides being charged with attempt to murder, Arabul also faces charges under the Arms Act and the Explosives Act. "We needed to collect evidence against him before arresting him. There are other accused persons also and we are investigating," said South 24 Parganas SP Praveen Tripathi.

Political circles said the CM was under pressure to act following serious discontent in civil society. Governor M K Narayanan had earlier said "goondaism" was taking place in the state.

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