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Calcutta High Court grants bail to former Sandeshkhali CPI(M) MLA Nirapada Sardar

He was picked up from his south Kolkata residence and thereafter arrested on February 11 over an FIR at the Sandeshkhali police station under various IPC sections, that include rioting, theft and conspiracy and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Last Updated 27 February 2024, 09:34 IST

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday granted bail to Sandeshkhali's former CPI(M) MLA Nirapada Sardar, who was arrested by the police for his alleged involvement in violent protests in the restive area in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district.

Petitioner Sardar's lawyer Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya pointed out to the court that the complaint is dated February 10, 2024 while the first information report is dated February 9, 2024.

Observing that it is "shocking that a citizen of India is taken into custody on the basis of such police complaint", a division bench presided by Justice Debangsu Basak granted interim bail to Sardar and directed that he be released "forthwith".

The court directed the jurisdictional superintendent of police to submit a report as to the contents of the police diary and on the facts mentioned in its order on the next date of hearing on February 29.

Attention of the advocate appearing for the state was drawn by the court to the date of the police complaint and the date of the FIR, but he was unable to answer as to how such discrepancy appears in the case diary.

The bench, also comprising Justice Md Shabbar Rashidi, directed that the petitioner be released on interim bail upon furnishing a bond of Rs 10,000, with two sureties of like amount each, one of whom must be local.

The division bench also directed Sardar to appear before the trial court on every date of hearing until further orders and not to intimidate witnesses or tamper with evidence in any manner whatsoever.

Sardar's counsel Bhattacharya submitted before the court that the former CPI(M) MLA, who had won from Sandeshkhali in the 2011 assembly elections, was arrested on February 11.

He submitted that Sardar was granted bail in a police complaint by the lower court on February 15, but immediately after that, he was taken in custody in the present police complaint, over which the bail prayer was moved before the high court.

Sardar was arrested on February 11 over an FIR at the Sandeshkhali Police Station under various IPC sections, which include rioting, theft and conspiracy, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

It was alleged that the CPI(M) leader was involved in violent protests at Sandeshkhali during which a poultry farm of local TMC leader Shiba Prasad Hazra was set on fire.

Hazra was later arrested by the police on the basis of a local woman's statement before a magistrate and he was charged with gangrape and attempted murder.

The riverine Sandeshkhali area -- situated on the borders of the Sundarbans, about 100 kilometres from Kolkata -- has been on the boil for more than a month with protests against TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh, who is absconding, and his supporters.

The unrest in the area stems from accusations against Shajahan and his supporters of land grabbing and sexual assault with the local TMC strongman evading authorities since a mob attack on Enforcement Directorate officials on January 5.

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(Published 27 February 2024, 09:34 IST)

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