The Sunday Guardian

Bengal PCC chief faces criminal charges


Rahul Gandhi’s latest appointee for the post of president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee has a criminal background. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Minister of State for Railways, is known as “Robin Hood” in his hometown Berhampore. Since joining politics in 1978, a few years after dropping out of school at the age of 15, Chowdhury has faced several criminal charges.

Presently, court proceeding­s under non- bailable sections of the Indian Penal Code, such as 302 ( murder) and 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) are in progress against Chowdhury for the alleged murder of Kamal Sheikh, a Trinamool Congress leader of Berhampore. Sheikh was murdered just two days after the Assembly results were declared on 13 May 2011 and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee assumed office. Sheikh was fired at by assailants while he was riding a bike with his daughter in Murshidaba­d’s Gorabazar. The case was dug up by a former Adhir Chowdhury aide and legislator, Humayun Kabir, who defected to the TMC after Mamata Banerjee made him a minister in her Cabinet. Kabir, however, could not keep his post after he lost the Assembly byelection last year, but not before ensuring TMC’s intrusion into Chowdhury’s so- called “impregnabl­e” lair. Last November, a West Bengal court granted Chowdhury bail for an attack on the Berhampore DM’s bungalow by his supporters, moments after he made an inflammato­ry speech. As a Congress MP, Chowdhury was arrested on 9 November 2005 from his 82, South Avenue residence in Delhi by two policemen, DSP Shahbul Hasan and IC Prodyut Bandhopady­ay of Berhampore allegedly for the murders of two hoteliers, Hanif Sheikh and his son Laltu Sheikh, on 24 July 2005. Chowdhury was lodged in prison for one and a half months. He was hiding in Kolkata during the 2006 Assembly elections and won an election by making his supporters play his recorded speeches all across his constituen­cy.

In 2002, Chowdhury faced murder charges, but was acquitted along with several others in the death case of Gobardhan Chowdhury of Burdwan.

Back in 1996, when Chowdhury was declared an absconder, he was recommende­d by Congress leader Somen Mitra to fight the Assembly elections. He won and went on to become an MP in 1998. After taking over as MoS Railways in 2012, Chowdhury, however said that he would quit if a single criminal charge was proven against him.

 ??  ?? Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury

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