Two dons and a college clash

National

Talking about the campus violence in Kolkata that left one police officer dead, West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firad Hakim Wednesday came out with his theory: the video footage that captured TMC councillor Iqbal Ahmed spearheading a riotous mob in the vicinity of Harimohan Ghose College where the ASI was killed was "superimposed". "It was Iqbal who was the target of the attack," Hakim said.

To the investigators, the statement was a clear signal that Ahmed, one of those blamed for the killing of ASI Tapash Choudhury, enjoys the blessings of the government. Hakim, who is considered Mamata Banerjee's right hand man in the state Cabinet, had Ahmed by his side at his Garden Reach borough office, which is not far from Harimohan Ghose College, on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, after the incident, Hakim had described the violence as a "joint venture" of the Congress and CPM goons against the Trinamool Congress. However, video footage of the incident had proved him wrong. On the basis of it, police arrested four, all of them associates of Ahmed, the TMC councillor from Ward 34.

Choudhury was shot during a clash between two rival students groups at the college over filing of nominations for the students' union elections. Ahmed is believed to have been present to scare away rival Congress's student wing from putting up candidates.

THE RIVALS

If the 48-year-old Ahmed a.k.a Munna is one half of the story of what transpired at Garden Reach a crime-infested area near Kolkata Port the other is Mohammad Mokhtar, a local leader of the Indian National Trade Union Congress. Ahmed belongs to the Trinamool's trade union, Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress.

Neither is a student leader, though Tuesday's violence was ostensibly a college clash. Both of them though are former CPM men who have risen in their new parties with muscle power. While the 50-year-old Mokhtar is a former CPM trade union leader with scores of criminal cases against him, Ahmed has come so far from his CITU past to establish himself as an indispensable leader of the Trinamool and a henchman of Hakim. So much so that the minister may find it difficult to retain his Garden Reach Assembly constituency without Ahmed's support.

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