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Idris Ali, president of All India Minority Forum arrested
Two days after unimaginable violence rocked central Kolkata following a call for chakka jam demanding the expulsion of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen by the All India Minority Forum, its president Idris Ali has been arrested.

THE KOLKATA Police today arrested Idris Ali, the president of the All India Minority Forum and a state Congress leader for inciting violence last Thursday. He was arrested by the Park Street police and taken to the Lal Bazaar central lock up. He was charged with offences such as inciting violence and conspiracy which are non bailable and will be produced in Bankshall Court tomorrow.


On November 22, a violent mob went on the rampage following a call for a three hour chakka jam demanding that Bangladeshi authoress Taslima Nasreen’s visa be revoked and she be thrown out of the country. The forum was also protesting the CPI (M) sponsored violence in Nandigram. The first procession that converged at the seven-point Park Circus crossing at 9.40 was led by Ali. The police, who tried to persuade the protesters to lift the blockade, were first pelted with stones and brickbats and then with hundreds of soda water and cold drink bottles. Large areas of central Kolkata turned into a battlefield and 11 cars were torched. Over 33 buses were damaged as the violence took on communal overtones.


That the violence was organised and pre-planned became obvious to the police when a section of residents of the areas started raining tube lights and brickbats from rooftops. It was also evident that the violence was planned because despite shops having downed its shutters hundreds of bottles materialised from nowhere. The police already put on the dock by the Calcutta High Court for the firing in Nandigram March this year, which claimed 14 lives, showed restraint and did not resort to firing. With the orgy spinning out of control, the Left Front government called in the Army to quell the rioters, whose frenzied and orchestrated violence carried on for eight hours. The army staged a flag march and by nightfall curfew was imposed. Police investigations point to a SIMI hand and possibly the ISI, which it is believed hijacked the movement and turned it into what it became.


Ali, who was rounded up that day and released later had appeared on television channels and confessed that he had lost control of the crowd by noon. He also admitted that the chakka jam was basically to demand Taslima’s ouster from West Bengal. In a blame game he started blaming Muslim organisations, who had also participated, for starting the violence.


Ali, who is also a state Congress leader and an advocate by profession and has a penchant for filing public interest litigations (he has filed 300 at the last count) did not care to inform the state Congress, which later condemned him roundly for his irresponsible behaviour. Interestingly, the speaker of the West Bengal Assembly who had been the first to demand the arrest of Ali voiced the same sentiments regarding Taslima and said if her staying in Kolkata caused disturbances then the West Bengal Government should take the matter up with the Centre.


Trinamul Congress minority leader Sultan Ahmed’s involvement has also come to light because he admitted to sending in his “boys” from Ripon Street, the epicentre of the violence. The Trinamul leadership is also contemplating action.

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