Kolkata: A day after the first phase of Assembly polls was conducted, TMC leader Chhatradhar Mahato was arrested on Sunday by the NIA from his home at Jhargram in connection with a 12-year-old train hostage case.
On being presented before the Bankshall court by the NIA officials, the court sentenced Mahato to be in NIA custody till March 30.
Notably, the NIA is investigating multiple cases against Mahato, including the murder of CPM leader Prabir Mahato in 2009 during the Maoist uprising in Lalgarh area and the 2009 Rajdhani Express hostage case. Mahato was also involved in cases like the landmine blast assassination attack on the then West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in 2008. In 2009, Mahato was arrested and was released in February this year.
According to NIA officials, Mahato was summoned on March 12, 18 and 22 but citing several issues Mahato failed to appear before them.
“Mahato had missed three summons. First, he claimed he is COVID-19 positive then he said that he has teeth issues but he was seen during poll campaigns,” said the NIA officials.
The officials also confirmed that Mahato’s lawyer had cited health issues and pleaded release of Mahato but the Bankshall court gave three days NIA custody to Mahato and on March 30, Mahato will be presented before a special NIA court.
Meanwhile, Mahato’s wife Niyati Mahato claimed that the arrest of Mahato is a political ploy. “The NIA officials broke open our house and arrested him. They even assaulted the women in the house and no arrest warrant was shown. Couple of days back Mahato was given an option to join the BJP which he had refused,” claimed Niyati.
Incidentally, Mahato is known to be a close aide of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. When Mahato was released from prison in February 2021, he became an office-bearer of the ruling Trinamool Congress.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh also claimed that the arrest of Mahato in connection to a 12-year-old case is a ploy of the BJP during the polls.