Arrested Trinamool leader claims party asked him to flee
Kolkata: Trinamool Congress leader Mohammad Iqbal, a key accused in the murder of a police officer here Feb 12, claimed following his arrest on Friday that he was asked to abscond by his party leadership.
"I did not flee Kolkata because of the murder but was asked by party leaders to lie low. I was asked by Trinamool leaders to abscond and evade arrest," Iqbal told a news channel.
Iqbal, who has been charged with rioting and attempt to murder, was arrested Thursday night from Dehri-on-Sone in Bihar 23 days after special branch officer Tapas Chowdhury was shot dead in broad daylight in the city's Garden Reach area during a clash between student activists.
"Iqbal is being produced before a court today (Friday) and we will seek a transit remand for him," said Shibaji Ghosh, additional director general, Crime Investigation Department (CID).
The Trinamool councillor and chief of the borough committee was seen at the spot of the incident, threatening a policeman and mobilising his supporters.
Chowdhury was killed while he was trying to control clashing Trinamool Congress and Congress students at the Harimohan Ghosh College.
The violence erupted over the issue of picking up nomination forms for the students' union polls.
Following the incident, the CID of West Bengal Police, which subsequently took over the probe from Kolkata Police, has been in hot pursuit of Iqbal.
Video footage aired by television channels showed Iqbal standing beside Sheikh Subhaan, the man who was caught on TV firing the bullet that allegedly killed the policeman.
Soon after the video footage was aired, Trinamool leader and Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim defended Iqbal saying "he was not involved".
Hakim's "shielding" of Iqbal attracted criticism from several quarters with opposition Left Front demanding his removal as a minister and accusing him of being involved in the incident.
Twelve people, including Subhaan, an aide of Iqbal, are currently behind bars for their role in the violence.
Following police's "inability to arrest the culprits", Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee removed Police Commissioner RK Pachnanda, a move disapproved by Governor MK Narayanan.
The Congress has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the incident.