TMC leader Arabul Islam arrested for political opponent’s murder ahead of Panchayat polls

Trinamool Congress leader Arabul Islam was arrested by the West Bengal police purportedly on late Friday evening, in connection with the murder of his political opponent ahead of Panchayat elections in the state, Indian Express had reported.

As per the report, an individual named Hafijur Rahaman was shot in the face while leading the rally of independent candidate Ishrafiq Mollah, in the state’s Bhangar region. Rahaman was rushed to the hospital but couldn’t be saved. Mollah is contesting against Islam in the state Panchayat elections.

The independent candidate Mollah is contesting under the banner of “Committee for Protection of Land, Livelihood, Environment and Ecosystem”, which has been opposing a power plant project in the area since 2016.

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Owing to the opposition, a Hindustan Times report has claimed that Bhangar has seen clashes between the villagers and TMC workers for the past one and a half years. The TMC workers had even tried to prevent the candidates from filing the panchayat election nominations, but they managed to file them via WhatsApp.

With regards to Rahaman’s murder, the committee’s spokesperson has claimed that bullets were fired at them despite which they kept marching. Later when they reached Natunhati Bazaar, Islam’s associates allegedly started throwing bombs at them, besides firing shots.

The now arrested Islam is believed to be a strongman having a bloody past. It was reported in 2014 that he had managed to get expelled from the TMC for six years over the death of two party workers, which were supposedly a result of a faction feud.

In 2015 he was arrested by the police, in the backdrop of him dictating multi-crore land deals, and engineering factional feuds in the TMC. He was also arrested in 2013 over charges of him orchestrating an attack on CPM leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah.

He expulsion from the TMC though was cut short and he was reinstated by the party in 2016.

Interestingly in the wake of Rahaman’s death, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed that she had ordered Islam’s immediate arrest for the crime. He was later promptly arrested by the police from his residence.

This prompt action by the Mamata government, raises questions over the possibly selective nature of their “sympathy”.

The buildup to the Panchayat elections has also seen serious political violence against BJP workers, allegedly perpetrated by the TMC, which has included preventing them from filing nominations which resulted in one such worker’s death. Parties like Congress and the CPM too have made similar allegations against the TMC.

Hence it remains to be seen whether the Mamata government takes similar decisive action against the TMC party men who are believed to be the perpetrators of these said crimes.

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