Kolkata: Does the name Swapan Chakraborty or Haath Kata Dilip ring a bell? Apart from giving sleepless nights to police and figuring in virtually every crime conference in this city and its suburbs, these local area toughs also assigned another important assignment – of ‘managing’ elections at the behest of their political masters. Now they are out in the open – just ahead of the assembly polls.

Swapan and Haath Kata Dilip reflect a curious trend in the run-up to the election – police picking up history-sheeters but failing to keep them in custody long enough, resulting in their getting bail.

Sources say every police station in and around the city has a list that shows how some of the most wanted men are roaming around freely despite facing charges of murder, attempted murder, bombing, extortion and illegal possession of weapons. Such elements are supposed to be rounded up and locked up before every election. This time, police say they followed due legal procedure and arrested many criminals, but with most of them getting bail, the opposition has started questioning their “intention”.

A look at some of the recent developments shows the problem at hand. Cossipore Trinamool Congress leader Swapan Chakraborty, who is accused of rioting, was arrested by the anti-rowdy squad (ARS) just over a fortnight ago, creating something of a sensation. Yet, the police submission against him in court was so weak that he walked out on bail. Once used as a tough by CPM during the Left regime, he switched to Trinamool and now stands accused of orchestrating the Cossipore Uddanbati violence two days ahead of the KMC polls last year.

The ARS had also arrested Haath Kata Dilip for harbouring central Kolkata don Gopal Tewari when he was on the run after a police officer was shot at Girish Park on KMC voting day last year. SK Vinod – whose men were hired for unleashing violence in Salt Lake during the Bidhannagar civic polls – is out on bail, too. Dilip, too, is now out on bail. Loha Pappu and Sona Pappu of Tiljala, accused of the sensational Bijon Setu shooting, are still holed up in their stronghold.

“We were taken aback when we found that several criminals have gone as far as Nadia and Birbhum on behalf of the ruling party on ‘election duty’. The names of Pinaki Mitra of North 24-Parganas, Mohan and Hasa of Salt Lake, Gour Mondal and Ruis Mondal of Rajarhat and Palash of Belur are doing the rounds for hobnobbing with either the ruling or opposition parties,” said a source.

It is not without reason that Election Commission is unhappy with the effort put in by Kolkata Police to try and recover weapons from criminals in the run-up to the assembly election. Though police have seized over 180 guns in the past year, most of them are countrymade weapons. The meagre sezire is all the more startling since police investigations into the 25 armed clashes in the city since the last KMC elections revealed that sophisticated weapons like 7mm and 9mm pistols are being freely used by criminals. The most recent example are the shootings near a pub in Haridevpur and outside Loreto School in Entally. “We will seize more weapons before election day. We have drawn up an action plan and are working according to it,” said a senior officer at Lalbazar HQ.

Cossipore: Swapan Chakraborty

Santoshpur Patuli: Tarak Singh

Beliaghata: Kanpuria Shankar (both his sons are behind bars), the Naskar brothers

Tiljala-Topsia-Karaya: Loha Pappu, Sona Pappu

Tollygunge: Sk Vinod

Lake Town-Baguiati: Hasth Kata Dilip

Rajarhat: Gour Mondal, Ruis Mondal

Haridevpur: Nanti

New Alipore: Raja Dutta

East Kolkata/Bypass: Ullu Raju
Source: TOI-Kol