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Kolkata hit-and-run: Is BJP trying too hard to claim credit for the arrest of Sambia Sohrab?

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:25 IST

Dramatic pictures of BJP leader Rupa Ganguly were splashed across Indian newspapers on Sunday morning.

Ganguly has been spearheading the Bharatiya Janata Party's street protests demanding the arrest of the youth who killed 21-year old IAF corporal Abhimanyu Gaud while he was rehearsing for the 26 January celebrations.

BJP leader Sidharth Nath Singh has been giving out statement after statement on the issue - accusing the Trinamool Congress of trying to protect the accused. BJP also accused the father of the accused was a member of the TMC.

When the prime accused in the case, Sambia Sohrab, was caught by the Kolkata police on Saturday night, the BJP patted themselves on the back for supposedly pressurising the Mamata Banerjee government to make the arrest.

"This is a classic case where TMC administration and Kolkata police were trying to save a TMC leader's son (Sambia Sohrab) in the hit-and-run case," Singh said after the arrest.

"They arrested him after 100 hours due to public pressure. This shows how TMC administration and police functions in West Bengal," he said.

However before the BJP claims a moral victory, here a few facts about the case:

  • The incident happened at 6:30am on 13 January. A rehearsal session for republic day parade was on, when a SUV entered the area that had been cordoned off.

  • The deceased IAF corporal, Gaud, tried to stop the vehicle. The driver of the car hit him and fled from the spot.
  • Gaud was taken to the military hospital in Alipore, where he was declared dead.
  • Mamata Banerjee visited the family of the deceased the same day and promised strict action. She said: "Stern action will be taken against the perpetrator of Red Road incident. The incident at Red Road is tragic and sad. I am surprised how a car broke barricade and barged into parade rehearsal."
  • It took more than three days for the police to track down the culprit.
  • While the search for the accused was still on, the BJP announced that the accused was the son of a Trinamool Congress leader. The party also accused Mamata Banerjee of protecting the accused.
  • Sambia Sohrab's father, Mohammad Sohrab, is a former RJD leader who runs construction and fruit businesses in central Kolkata.
  • The former MLA is also an accused in the case along with his sons Sambia and Ambia Sohbab - the owner of the Audi Q7 that killed Gaud.
  • Sohrab senior was accused of helping his younger son hide after he fled the accident spot near Fort William.
  • In December 2015, Ambia reportedly hit the manager of a Park Street discotheque after he was denied entry. In 2006, Ambia was detained for slapping a traffic police personnel on Park Street after breaking traffic rules, reported India Today.
  • TMC MP Derek O'Brien issued a statement that Sohrab was not associated with the TMC in any manner.
  • He said: "The owner of the car, reported to be driving it at the time of the incident, has no connection with Trinamool Congress. His father is a minor political activist, elected to the state assembly with the support of the Left Front in 2006. Neither the alleged driver of the car not his father have ever attended formal, committee or organisational meetings of Trinamool Congress. Neither of them has ever been appointed to a post, or got a letter to this effect, from the party. We have nothing to do with them and have never had anything to do with them. The culprits must certainly be booked as per the law of the land."
  • Meanwhile, the West Bengal police sent out teams to different parts of Bengal and Bihar to track down the trio. The police raided 30 places in the city, including hotels owned by the Sohrabs, reported Indian Express.
  • On 16 January, Kolkata police arrested Sambia Sohrab. He has been charged with IPC section 302 (murder). Ambia Sohbra and his father are still absconding.

While outrage over this crime story of a young soldier being killed by the recklessness of a privileged person is justified, unfortunately for the BJP, there is no political angle here.

The Kolkata police, though slow, made extensive efforts to nab the culprits. Mamata Banerjee too was prompt to react to the development much before the BJP turned up the heat on the issue.

It looks as if the BJP is spending too much political capital on an issue where it has nothing substantial to corner the ruling TMC on.

First published: 17 January 2016, 6:01 IST