West Bengal: BJP Youth Leader Arrested with 100 Grams Coke, Claims Setup by Party Members
By: Sashwata Saha
BJP youth wing leader Pamela Goswami and a friend were arrested on Friday from South Kolkata's posh New Alipore locality with cocaine worth ₹10 lakhs on her. On Saturday, as she was being produced before the local court, she screamed that she was being framed by two other BJP leaders. Videos of the incident went viral on social media.
According to officers at the Alipore police station, the arrest had been part of a long-term operation. “We had prior information that Pamela was associated with a drug cartel,” a Sub-Inspector who had been part of the operation said to Newshound India, “We did not know the extent of her association but we did know that she was friends with an individual who we had suspected for a long time. So we put her under observation.”
This acquaintance, one Prabir Dey -- a drug peddler, the city cops claim -- was arrested alongside Goswami. The police had intercepted Goswami’s car at NR Avenue on Friday afternoon and allegedly seized 90-100 grams of “a white powdery substance appearing to be cocaine” from her handbag and in the glove compartment. Under the NDPS Act, 1985, this is enough cause for all occupants of the car (Goswami, Dey and her bodyguard Somnath Chatterjee) to be arrested.
The trio was kept at the local police station on Friday night before being presented before the Alipore Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) court on Saturday. As she was being taken into the courthouse, Goswami yelled at the media gathered outside: “I want the CID to probe this case and Rakesh Singh to be arrested. This is a conspiracy. Rakesh Singh, who is a close aide to Kailash Vijayvargiya, must be arrested. He has set me up!”
At the court, the prosecution said the police needed Goswami’s custody to establish the drug trail and find out information that could lead to the recovery of more banned psychotropic substances. Meanwhile, Goswami’s legal team pleaded that their client had been framed without naming anyone and blamed the police for some “procedural lapses'' such as no mention of any observation orders on Goswami in the general diary.
“Our client has told both the police and the court that there was another man, a close acquaintance of hers, in the car who had got off just minutes before the arrest happened. Miss Goswami has been framed by this man,” a member of Goswami’s defence team who refused to be identified said to the press assembled outside the court.
The court sided with the prosecution. Goswami and her two associates have been sent to police remand till February 25.
The arrest offered the Trinamool Congress an opportunity to slam the BJP. Third-time incumbent MP Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar said to Newshound India, “For a party which projects an obsessively anti-narcotic image, the BJP is in a soup. First, they got caught for child trafficking, then arms and now drugs. They will cry conspiracy, of course, but who will believe the boy who cries wolf?”
Members of the Bengal BJP, when questioned on various local TV channels, called the arrest a TMC conspiracy to blemish the party’s image in the run-up to the elections. Rakesh Singh, Goswami’s prime accused and aide to BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, said, “I haven’t had any contact with Pamela in at least two years. Obviously, she has been coached by the police. She was silent at the time of arrest, then, how come after eight hours in custody she is calling me out? No, this entire affair has the ruling party’s fingerprints all over it. The police are just their henchmen.”
This is the second major arrest of a BJP leader in West Bengal involved in a criminal cartel since the beginning of February. At the beginning of the month, police in the volatile Jhargram district of the state had arrested a father-son duo with 18 double-barrelled rifles purchased across the border. The duo was allegedly closely connected to BJP district president Sukhamay Satpati, who was brought in for questioning. The local sessions court remanded to four-day police custody.
The West Bengal assembly polls are drawing closer with the TMC and BJP appearing to be the behemoth entities who will duke it out in the booths. The incumbent Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who has been in power since 2011 will see her 2016-21 term end on May 31.
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