Senior Congress leader Subal Bhowmik

Agartala: Close to three weeks after a former BJP IT cell member was held for allegedly defaming Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb on social media, the crime branch summoned senior Congress leader and former BJP vice-president Subal Bhowmik in connection with the case.

On June 13, Anupam Paul, who worked as a member of the BJP’s IT cell during the state assembly elections, was arrested from New Delhi, after he was on the run for about a month and a half. He was charged with forgery, defamation and criminal conspiracy against CM Deb for sharing fake news of his ‘divorce’.

The investigating officer in the defamation case issued a notice to Bhowmik on June 27 and asked him to remain present in the office of SP (cyber crime) for recording his statements.

The notice read, “There are reasonable grounds to question you to ascertain facts and circumstances of the case.”

Speaking to reporters, Bhowmik said he has declined to record his statement at the SP’s office or any police station and has requested the police to question him at his residence.

Bhowmik has so far received three notices from the Tripura police to remain present for interrogation but he has refused to do so.

Bhowmik said he had no connection either with Anupam Paul or in helping him flee the state. “The police have interrogated over 100 youths so far but none of them were detained by the police. They have summoned me for questioning too. I am open to be questioned at my house. Am I absconding? The police are harassing people and they have even leaked the summon notice to the media to tarnish my image in front of the people,” said Bhowmik.

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Bhowmik also said that although he didn’t help Anupam all this time, he would now arrange bail for him and lend him support for his legal fight on humanitarian grounds, he added.

Meanwhile, director general of police (in-charge) Rajiv Singh told reporters that it was not possible for the police to go to every single house for questioning. “If required, then we might seek legal recourse from the court if Bhowmik continues to resist cooperating with the police,” he said.

“The police issued him the notice to record his statement before the investigating officer. Police can’t go to every single person’s house. In such cases, if the person doesn’t cooperate, there is the option to go to the court,” the officiating DGP added.

Bhowmik is a former MLA and held the post of BJP state vice-president till March 19, weeks before Lok Sabha elections this year, when he joined the Congress. He was later announced the party’s candidate in West Tripura constituency but lost to his former colleague and BJP candidate Pratima Bhowmik by over 3 lakh votes.

Earlier, Tripura police arrested two persons — one police constable and a freelance journalist — for posting objectionable content about the Tripura CM on social media in connection with the fake news of his ‘divorce’.

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