Mamata’s Warped Secularism: Sambia Sohrab May Get Away With Murder
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is trying to protect her own interests and her Muslim vote base.
- An IAF officer was hit head-on and killed by a mint fresh Audi Q7 during Republic Day rehearsals in Kolkata.
- The car belonged to Ambia & Sambia Sohrab, sons of Mohammed Sohrab, a former RJD MLA who is now with the ruling Trinamool Congress.
- Sohrab is known to head a mafia at Burrabazar fruit market that rigs fruit prices across the state.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is a classic example of what the ‘saffron’ trolls call “sickular”, or an overkill of secularism to achieve an altogether different goal, which, in her case, is to keep most of the state’s 30 percent Muslim electorate on her side in the upcoming assembly elections.
On January 13, at 6:30 on a foggy morning, while IAF officer Abhimanyu Gaud was overseeing rehearsals for the Republic Day parade on Red Road, he was hit head-on by a mint fresh Audi Q7 that had streaked down the road from the Vidyasagar bridge and smashed through three guard rails.
There were policemen on security duty, who did nothing. Gaud was dragged down the road at high speed for 20 meters, after which the car hit another barricade, which knocked its bonnet.
Gaud died on the spot. The driver left the car and fled, but didn’t forget to tear up the paper pasted on its back with a trade numbering used by the dealer.
Sohrabs Vamoosed From Their Mansion
The police acted late, but it took them no more than half an hour to tap the dealer firm and, through it, figure out who owned the Rs 77-lakh beast. It belongs to Ambia Sohrab, elder son of Mohammed Sohrab, a former RJD MLA who is now with the ruling Trinamool Congress. It is learnt that Ambia gifted the car to his younger brother Sambia, who recently got married. Trinamool Rajya Sabha member, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, attended the wedding.
It is not known who was driving the car – Ambia, Sambia, or someone else. The IAF spokesman maintained that there was only the driver in the car but the police said that there was more than one person. The police version, however, is questionable for many reasons.
The Sohrab family’s identity as the car’s owner was established within minutes of the accident, but the police did precious little till 10.30 am, when mobile call records showed that the entire family was somewhere in the Park Street area, a stone’s throw from the accident spot. The Sohrabs had by then vamoosed from their mansion at Jorasanko in North Kolkata, opposite the Jorasanko police station.
It is no wonder that the police claimed there were multiple passengers in the car – a tested tactic to divert investigation. There was too much fog to count the number of people in the car from CCTV footage, the police said.
However mounting public and media pressure has led to Sambia Sohrab being taken into police custody for 14 days. He has been charged with murder, attempt to murder and destruction of evidence.
Sohrab was Named in a Murder Case in 2002
Sohrab is known to head a mafia at Burrabazar fruit market that rigs fruit prices across the state through extortion. His garage has a range of top of the line cars – Mercedes, BMW, Land Rover. He is a wealthy man who could buy his way to Lalu Yadav’s RJD and even become MLA when the RJD was in alliance with the then almighty CPI(M).
However, he joined the Trinamool and was blessed with the patronage of Mukul Roy, when he enjoyed Mamata’s confidence. In 2002, Sohrab was named in a murder case involving a businessman but the investigation did not progress either under the CPI(M) or the Trinamool. The investigation against the hit-and-run murderer is likely to go the way of the Park Street rape case in 2011 in which Kader Khan, the main perpetrator, was given a long rope to slip out of.
Mamata’s State Policy
Mamata’s extraordinary sensitivity about her Muslim vote bank has infected the state’s police, notorious for its bowing before the ruling party. Recently, when a 150,000-strong mob of the minorities went on a rampage at Kaliachak in Malda district, 345 kilometers north of Kolkata, torching government vehicles and attacking police station, the uniformed men were nowhere in sight.
Far from ordering a probe, the chief minister declared that it was not a communal incident but caused by a skirmish between the locals and the BSF. In the Muslim-majorty Malda district (51 percent), Kaliachak has their heaviest concentration – 89 percent.
With Malda’s most influential leader, former railway minister ABA Ghani Khan Chowdhury, dead for a decade now, the Congress’ predominance in the district is waning, and religious forces are fishing in troubled waters. The Chief Minister’s nonchalance raises suspicions; her party may be in cahoots with them.
Mamata Can Invite Terror to the East
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has so far been inexplicably benign to Mamata. CBI inquiry into the Saradha chit-fund scam is in a quagmire, and so is the probe into Khagragarh explosion in which a veritable bomb-making factory was accidentally discovered in Burdwan district, and leads were found to establish links between this enterprise and the notorious JMB in Bangladesh which is out to eliminate Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
Drunk on the vodka of the vote, Mamata can invite terror to the east on a scale that may compare with the Middle East.
(The writer is Delhi-based veteran journalist.)
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