Politics

Absconding Bengali Outfit Leader Subodh Biswas Arrested in West Bengal

The president of the Nikhil Bharat Bengali Udbastu Samannay Samiti allegedly inspired a mob with hate speech to attack the All Assam Students Union office on March 6.

Poster of Subodh Biswas in a Guwahti locality Photo-PTI

Poster of Subodh Biswas in a Guwahati locality. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Subodh Biswas, the president of Nagpur-based Hindu Bengali outfit Nikhil Bharat Bengali Udbastu Samannay Samiti (NBBUSS), who absconded from Assam on March 6, was arrested in the wee hours of March 22 from West Bengal, according to the Assam police in Guwahati. Biswas was taken into custody by a joint team of Assam and West Bengal police from the 24 Parganas district along with a close aide who was identified as Subhash Biswas.

Assam director general of police Mukesh Sahay told the local media on Wednesday morning that he was arrested from an area “about three-four kms away from the India-Bangladesh border.” He said Biswas would be presented in a local court later in the day and Assam police would seek a transit remand to bring him to the state.

The Assam police has been on the look out for Biswas after he allegedly led a mob to attack the office of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) in Silapathar town of the state’s Dhemaji district on March 6. According to news reports, Biswas, along with some other leaders of NBBUSS from Delhi and Nagpur, allegedly delivered communally provocative speeches at a public meeting held earlier in the day in Silapathar to demand Indian citizenship for Hindu Bangladeshis as per the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 tabled by the Narendra Modi government in July 2016.

Thereafter, a rally was brought out which reportedly went out of control. The mob broke the martyrs’ column put up at the AASU office in memory of those who lost their lives during the 1980s students’ movement against “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh. They also damaged the portraits of Assamese cultural icons Bhupen Hazarika and Jyoti Prasad Agarwala.

Responding to the massive public outrage and protests across the state over the attack, the state government announced instituting a one-man inquiry committee under the additional chief secretary and mandated it to submit a report within a month’s time.

So far as many as 43 people have been arrested in relation to the case. However, Subodh, who allegedly was the mastermind behind the attack, absconded, leading police to announce a reward of one lakh rupees to anyone who could provide information on his whereabouts.

Local news channels flashed photographs of Subodh with senior national leaders of the BJP. Subodh, who runs a unani clinic in Bajrangnagar area of Nagpur, is also said to have links with the RSS. However, on March 17, RSS prant pracharak Mahendra Sharma categorically said at a press meet in Silchar that Subodh “never participated or attended any programme of the RSS”.

While looking for Biswas, the police also barred NBBUSS from holding any meeting in the state. On March 10, The Wire reported that NBBUSS had changed its name, at least on its Facebook page, to Bengali Samaj Sangathan Samiti, seemingly to bypass this prohibitory step taken by the police against the organisation.