Keshab Sarkar, a 37-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader from Jirania in West Tripura, has been detained under the National Security Act, triggering allegations of political conspiracy from his family. Police records show Sarkar, who engages in contract work and has a long history of political activism, was sent to Bishalgarh Central Jail the day of his arrest.
“Keshab Sarkar was detained and booked under the National Security Act. The District Magistrate issued an order based on his records and history. The detainee was sent to Bishalgarh Central Jail,” said Ajit Pratap Singh, the West Tripura Superintendent of Police.
West Tripura District Magistrate Sandeep Namdeo Mahatme, who ordered Sarkar’s detention under NSA, explained that the Act has a broad spectrum and a detainee doesn’t necessarily have to be involved with anti-national crimes. “There were detailed reports on the detainee from the police, where it is said that Keshab Sarkar was involved with organised crime. He was detained on that basis and produced before the state NSA Board. The NSA Board had its last hearing on October 25,” the DM said.
Ruling BJP MLA Sushanta Choudhury has come out in criticism of the decision to charge Sarkar with National Security Act. “Keshab is a businessman and an anti-Left soldier for long. He has been close to me since my NSUI days. I had several talks with the CM, who is also the Home Minister. I also spoke to the chief secretary and home secretary,” Choudhury told indianexpress.com.
The MLA said he had learnt that Sarkar was produced before the NSA Board two days back. “I am told by unofficial sources that NSA Board has failed to take a call and they have referred again to the state government for decision. If the government wanted to release him, it could have long back,” the MLA said.
Sarkar’s 60-year-old mother finds the entire sequence of events hard to understand. “They came in a black bus full of central forces late on October 9 night. There were two other smaller vehicles. Someone called my son out of the home and they instantly arrested him. I asked them why he was being arrested. Nobody told us anything and whisked him away,” Sandhyarani Sarkar told indianexpress.com at their residence in Daspara of Jirania on Saturday.
Sarkar joined the BJP along with six Congress MLAs after a long stint as an anti-Left political activist. When the CPI (M)-led Left Front was in power, Sandhyarani said her son was booked for political violence. “They (CPI-M) ransacked our house, stopped my son from getting business licenses, named my son in false cases. The court dropped these cases. But never was my son charged under anti-national activities,” she said.
Keshab’s mother feels he was made victim of a political conspiracy by some BJP leaders who wanted to reap benefits of his business. “He is a contractor who supplies goods that come to the Jirania Railway Station. I think they hatched a conspiracy against him,” she said.
“We knew Keshabda as a political worker. But I don’t feel there is any ground in the charges levelled against him this time,” Satyajit Roy, a neighour of the family, chipped in.
In 2013, Ranjit Debbarma, chief of outlawed All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF), was arrested and charged with National Security Act. The insurgent leader was wanted for mass murders, abductions, waging war against India, conspiracies and other crimes.