The arrest of a leader of a Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) for allegedly demanding money from a student for admission to a college has landed the Darjeeling district unit of the student wing of the ruling Trinamool Congress in an embarrassing situation. Police swung into action and arrested the Trinamool student leader Tarun Sen, who is the general secretary of a students’ union of a college in Bagdogra.

The police said they acted on a written complaint filed by a student who said he had been beaten up after he refused to cough up Rs 3,000 when asked by
some senior students of the Kalipada Ghosh Tarai Mahavidyalya.

Activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Advisi Vikas Parishad staged a demonstration over the incident on Saturday.

The student had gone to the college on 13 July, a holiday in Darjeeling and Kalimpog districts on the occasion of Bhanu Jayanti, the birth anniversary of poet Bhanu Bhakta Acharya. He then called the leaders of the students’ union over phone. The TMCP leadership, however, said the incident would not  tarnish the image of the organisation.

“Police are investigating the case and they will find out if Tarun Sen was guilty. Let it first be proven that TMCP activists were involved in the case. But such incidents will not affect the image of our orgnisation,” said district TMCP
president Nirnay Roy.

A section of the leaders, however, said the arrest of the general secretary of the students’ wing of the ruling party was embarrassing. “Investigations will prove if he was guilty. But the arrest based on allegations, which has rocked the college admission process like never before, may put us in an uncomfortable situation. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee herself has instructed police to check such acts and take stern steps against those involved in extorting money from students in the name of admission,” said a TMCP leader.

Some leaders, however, claimed the Trinamool student leader was innocent.

The SFI said the incident proved that the allegations of extortion from students in colleges were true. “This is not just a case at a Bagdogra college, but such allegations have been raised in other colleges too. This incident has proved the allegations are true. We have requested the administration, and led deputations, but no steps have been taken. We will launch bigger movements
on this issue,” said the district secretary of the SFI, Sankar Mjumder.

The Siliguri Metropolitan police commissioner, Bharat Lal Meena, said police were taking action as per provisions of the law. The police have, meanwhile, put up notices at the gates of colleges, asking students to inform them through email, WhatsApp and over the phone if any such demand for cash is made during admissions.

Sen was produced in the Siliguri additional chief judicial magistrate’s court on Sunday and was remanded in judicial custody. He will be produced in the court again on 26 July. The Trinamool student leader pleaded innocence before reporters. “The allegations are false. I was not present at the college,” Sen said.

Defence lawyer Susmita Basu Maitra said the allegations levelled against Sen
were false.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Gautam Deb met the injured TMCP leader of Cooch Behar College, Majid Ansari, on Sunday. Ansari is undergoing treatment in a private hospital in Siliguri. He was shot at during a clash in Cooch Behar on Friday.