On Tuesday night West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was spotted listening to Pakistani Ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s mellifluous voice with her eyes closed. Perhaps that is how she sees all the problems in her State.
The very next morning, at 6 am on Wednesday, an airman was killed in a freak road accident.
The IAF Corporal Abhimanyu Gaud was supervising the Republic Day parade rehearsal on the Red Road. The area was cordoned off for the public, but a speeding Audi broke through the barricades and hit him.
The driver fled the spot. Corporal Gaud, 21, was declared dead at the Eastern Command Hospital, the defence ministry confirmed.
More than 24 hours have passed since the incident but the Kolkata police is yet to make an arrest in connection with it.
Corporal Abhimanyu bid farewell in Kolkata early this morning. 24 hours on, no arrests in the Audi hit & run. pic.twitter.com/jWkvKQP1ja
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) January 14, 2016
What is important to note here is that the car was being allegedly driven by the son of TMC leader Mohammed Sohrab.
Sohrab was a former leader of the RJD who switched allegiances and joined Congress during the 2011 Bengal Assembly Elections. Later, he again switched parties to join the TMC.
According to the police the car, a brand new Audi A7, is registered in the name of Ambia Sohrab, one of Mohammed Sohrab’s two sons.
Owner of the Audi is TMC leader Mohd Sohrab’s son Ambia Sohrab. Whoever was driving the car is hiding from the law. pic.twitter.com/5Lfu3aaUPv
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) January 13, 2016
“Showroom records say that the car belonged to Ambia Sohrab,” an officer said referring to a challan they found in the car.
The nearly Rs.75 lakh SUV was purchased in the name of Mussadi Business Pvt Ltd of 16, Burman Street in north Kolkata. The business is registered in the name of Mohammed Sohrab. The senior Sohrab is also the president of the Fruit Merchants’ Association in Kolkata.
Ambiya Sohrab’s Facebook profile describes him as the director of Aafreen Group of Companies. The profile also shows his love for fast cars and bikes.
A major concern that has risen in the wake of this accident is how a vehicle was able to breach three rings of security.
A senior defence ministry official said:
“The Audi came at a high speed, knocked down the Corporal and then sped away. It then swerved and smashed into a barricade. The driver got off and escaped before security personnel could reach the spot where the SUV collided with the barricade. The vehicle managed to breach three rings of security around Red Road. It could have been an explosive-laden vehicle. We have taken up the matter with the police who are in charge of security during the parade rehearsal.”
That the driver was able to escape also points at the lapses in security cover given by the police. The driver was also able to tear off the temporary registration number of the car before fleeing.
The entire Kolkata Police was caught napping throughout the episode.
— ANI (@ANI_news) January 13, 2016
Military personnel on Red Road say they saw at least two men getting out of the car. Yet the police is clueless as to who exactly were the occupants.
Police has launched a manhunt. But Ambia, between 26 and 32, and his other family members are absconding. A police team could not trace anyone during a raid at the Sohrab their residence at M.M. Burman Street in Jorasanko of central Kolkata.
Gaud hailed from Surat in Gujarat and was stationed at the Kaliakunda air base. His father owns a small furniture business.
Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha said that they are examining CCTV footage to nab the culprit.
Banerjee has promised strict action but has, in her own way, also raised a suspicion: “I wonder how the vehicle managed to break several barricades and enter the practice zone.”