A notorious land broker, suspected to be the king pin of a local land mafia active in Rajarhat on the outskirts of the city, was arrested from West Bengal’s Bankura district early on Tuesday.
The arrest comes a day after the State government announced that it could not proceed with the setting up of the proposed joint sector information technology (IT) township near the area following allegations of forcible grabbing of land.
Gaffar Mollah, the prime accused in the violence that led to the death of a person in the Rajarhat area on August 23, told the police shortly after his arrest that his activities had the direct backing of Raj K. Modi, managing director of the company that owns the Vedic Village resort in the area, who is also a director of a private partner in the IT township project.
The West Bengal government said on Monday that it was not going ahead with the IT township project as it did not “want to be involved in any illegal activity.” It had also explained in a statement its decision not to proceed with the project, citing the arrest of Mr. Modi and suggestions by certain State departments involved in facilitating the project to scrap it.
The government ruled out a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the Vedic Village incident as demanded by Trinamool Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee.
“There is no evidence to suggest that the State police is failing in its investigations,” the State’s Home Secretary, Ardhendu Sen, said during the day.
Mollah, who fled the city shortly after the violence, was arrested along with five others. It is being probed whether he enjoyed any political patronage, said Rahul Srivastava, Superintendent of Police of North 24 Parganas district.
The police are also investigating links between Mollah and his associates — who allegedly threatened local residents into selling their land at prices much lower than the market rate — and Azizul Islam alias Khude, the brother of Arabul Islam, the Trinamool Congress MLA from adjoining Bhangar. Azizul Islam was reportedly at the scene of the violence on August 23.
Mollah’s connection with Mr. Modi, who is presently in judicial custody, has been established, as has been the fact that the former and his associates used to keep arms in Vedic Village, Mr. Srivastava said.
The police seized arms from the resort compounds during investigations into the August 23 violence, when a section of Vedic Village was set ablaze by a section of the local people enraged over the nexus between its management and the local land sharks.