Bengal minister Madan Mitra subdued in court, calm at custody order

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Kolkata, Dec 13: A high-profile politician known for his quick retorts, mass contacts and organisational base at the grassroots - from hospital to transport unions, West Bengal Minister Madan Mitra Saturday looked forlorn and dejected a city court which sent him to CBI custody in connection with the Saradha scam.

Arrested by the central agency a day back, Mitra was presented before the court of acting Chief Judicial Magistrate Kinshuk Sadhukhan, amid high security while thousands of his followers gathered around the premises shouting slogans against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Bengal minister Madan Mitra subdued in court, calm at custody order

The entire court premises were barricaded with policemen hovering all around on a day when the activists of the ruling Trinamool Congress held the city to ransom, bringing out massive rallies in support of Mitra, whom they called victim of a "political conspiracy".

Having spent the night at a lock up in the Electronics Complex Police station, Mitra was taken to the CBI office from where he was brought to the court in the afternoon.

"This is a political conspiracy. Whatever I have to say, the chief minister has said it," Mitra said referring to Mamata Banerjee who has virtually declared a war against the Narendra Modi central government over its "political vendetta".

Mitra's entry inside the court triggered pandemonium after his battery of lawyers demanded that media persons covering the case be evicted from the hall. Journos present found it ironical. For, an almost fetish like obsession for the media, particularly the television camera, has been the trademark of Mitra's political life.

The judge refused to relent saying that it was an open court and he could not prevent the journalists from doing their duty.

Even a few Trinamool supporters, whose numbers in and around the court had by then swelled, tried to ensure the journalists were removed. They were prevented by police and taken away.

Dressed in his customary kurta-pyjamas with a shawl wrapped around his neck, Mitra looked pensive and lost in thoughts as he sat in a corner of the court. Even as his counsel dished out arguments pressing for his bail, the politico seemed disinterested in the proceedings.

But suddenly he stood up and sought the court's permission to make a submission.

Giving details about his interrogation at the CBI office here Friday, Mitra claimed his arrest was a result of "call made from Delhi" to the sleuths.

"Everything was going fine and later CBI joint director Rajiv Singh offered me tea. Singh said my statement is being recorded and once it is done, I may go home," said Mitra as he told the court that despite his fragile health, he himself had contacted the probe agency for his interrogation.

"I was having my tea when suddenly an officer came to me and said we have got a call from Delhi we will have to arrest you," said Mitra and went back to his chair.

As soon as Mitra had finished, his lawyers started clamouring that the CBI was a "caged parrot" and "functioning like a political party".

The over a dozen defence lawyers even drowned the voice of CBI counsel P.S. Dutta who sought Mitra's custody for seven days.

Pressing for Mitra's bail, his advocates claimed that all bar council members were willing to act as surety for the minister without whom "Bengal's transport system would collapse".

As the judge going through the case dairy and the arguments, began writing the order, Mitra seemingly a bit restless, looked heavenwards a few times.

With the judge pronouncing "bail rejected", Mitra, who till then appeared to be anxious, stood up calmly while his lawyers rushed to him offering consolation.

As soon as the news of his CBI custody till Dec 16 trickled out, hundreds of Trinamool supporters shouted in unison "Madan Mitra we are with you" and "CBI down down".

Police had a harrowing time in taking Mitra out of the court premises as the Trinamool activists tried to prevent the police vehicle from moving with many of them trying to climb atop the van.

IANS

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