Vol. 5 Num 590 Wed. January 25, 2006  
Front Page

Arrestee is not Abdur Rahman
West Bengal police confirm

West Bengal police yesterday confirmed that they had not arrested Shaekh Abdur Rahman, the chief of banned Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), as the issue remained the talk of the country for the last two days.

The confirmation followed reports on Monday and yesterday by wire services and local media about the arrest of the supreme leader of JMB, responsible for countrywide bomb attacks on August 17 and subsequent suicide bombings.

Our Delhi correspondent reports that it was in fact a case of mistaken identity. A 23-year-old youth named Obaidur Rahman, who had been staying illegally in a West Bengal village for several months, was taken for JMB chief Abdur Rahman.

Two Bangla and an English dailies on Monday carried reports saying that Indian police arrested Rahman the previous day.

AFP quoting Inspector General of West Bengal police Raj Kanojia yesterday reported that Abdur Rahman was arrested along with a relative on Sunday while attending a wedding ceremony in the village of Joragachha near the Bangladesh border.

The news agency also quoted Kanojia as saying that Rahman had entered India a few weeks after the 17 August blasts and taken refuge in a relative's house in a village 250 kilometres north of Kolkata.

Superintendent of Police (SP) in Murshidabad Niraj Singh said the militant kingpin has been charged with travelling India without proper documents. He was remanded in police custody by a district court on Monday, according to the AFP report.

Police were interrogating him to establish his link to the August 17 blasts in Bangladesh. He would be produced before the court again on Wednesday, it added.

But private TV channel ATN reported yesterday evening that Abdur Rahman was not arrested. Rather a youth from northern Bangladesh district Bogra was held in Murshidabad. He introduced him as Obaidur Rahman, a student of sociology department of Dhaka University, ATN said, quoting Kolkata IGP (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia.

Obaidur had been on the run from police for suspected links to the countrywide bomb attacks, and slipped into India from Bogra later.

"Police were following Obaidur for suspicious movement and later made the arrest. Further inquiry is going on and a case has been filed against him under foreigners' act," Kanojia told ATN.

United News of Bangladesh (UNB), meantime, reported that Kanojia disclosed the identity of the arrestee [Obaidur] when an official of the Deputy High Commission met him yesterday noon.

UNB quoting Press Counsellor in the Bangladesh mission in Kolkata Saleh Shibly said that the mission has sought consular access to meet the arrested Bangladeshi citizen.

The BBC meanwhile said the Indian state police have described the news reports of Rahman's arrest 'not true'.

Indian police in West Bengal have arrested Obaidur for suspected connection with a series of blasts in Bangladesh last August, BBC reported, adding that two others were also arrested in the police raid in Murshidabad district.

Speaking about the reported arrest of the JMB chief, Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan yesterday said they had contacted Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata and the High Commission in New Delhi about the arrest and are awaiting an official reply.

Obaidur Rahman has turned out to be a mere illegal, a senior police official said yesterday, our Delhi correspondent reports.

"Following interrogation, it was found that the arrested person is a student of Dhaka University. He entered India without a passport or any other valid document and had been staying here for the last few months," Murshidabad SP told Press Trust of India.

Obaidur, who was earlier suspected to be Shaekh Abdur Rahman, was produced before the sub-divisional judicial magistrate's court in Jangipur and placed on a 10-day remand.

The SP said his involvement in militant activities has not yet been found, adding that it was gathered that he was a second-year graduation student who fled to India after police had begun raiding his village following the August 17 blasts.

Obaidur was arrested at a house at Joragacha village of West Bengal's Murshidabad district after locals informed the police about a stranger avoiding contact with the people.

Three others, all residents of the house where Obaidur was staying, were also arrested and remanded in judicial custody for 10 days.