Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday ordered a CID probe into the disappearance of a reporter attached with Siliguri-based Bengali daily Uttarbanga Sambad.
Speaking to reporters at the state secretariat Nabanna here, Mamata said, “The IGP, North Bengal, Gyanwant Singh has been sent there. I have also asked the CID to inquire into the matter. We want the truth to come out.”
Chayan Sarkar, the Alipurduar correspondent of Uttarbanga Sambad, was last seen near Salsalabari railway station on Sunday night.
The newspaper Sarkar worked for reported on Monday that he had run into a tiff with local Trinamool Congress leaders after he reported that supporters of the party’s student wing Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) were taking money from students to get them admitted to Vivekananda College in Alipurduar.
After the news was published, TMCP supporters allegedly ransacked Sarkar’s house 10 days ago. Sarkar, who was not at home when his house was raided, lodged an FIR. He later alleged that police was not acting on his complaint and threatened to sit on a fast unto death if the administration did not take exemplary action against the prime accused, local TMCP president, and eight others. Sarkar had also alleged that the accused had attempted to assault the women in his family when his house was raided.
On Sunday, eight of the nine accused were reportedly arrested. Police said the prime accused was absconding. Sources, however, claimed that the arrests were an “eye wash” and the accused were slapped with light charges.
The same evening, Sarkar went to Salsabari for some work. He reportedly met the local correspondent of Uttarbanga Sambad and later left for home, but did not reach there. At about 10 pm, local residents found his motorcycle. They informed other correspondents and police. The spot, which is close to the Assam-Bengal border, was searched but Sarkar could not be found. His wallet and identity card were found in a nearby bush, and his two cellphones were missing and switched off.
North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb said he is monitoring the situation and had spoken to the CM. “The CM said the correspondent must be found out and if any harm was done to him, the culprits should be booked. It is true that the correspondent had reported against the TMCP and his house had been raided,” said Deb.
Alipurduar SP Avaru Rabindranath said a CID team from Kolkata had reached there to probe the case. “We had also taken sniffer dogs to the spot where Sarkar’s bike was found, but found no clues,” said the SP.
Police are also conducting checks on moving vehicles.
The journalists’ fraternity in North Bengal took out rallies on Monday to demand swift action in the case. Several political parties backed by the Congress, the BJP and Left have called a 12-hour bandh over the issue on Tuesday.
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