Former India football skipper & TMC MP charged for slapping on-duty cop

Kolkata: Former Indian football captain Prasun Banerjee has been slapped with a non-bailable charge after he allegedly hit an on-duty traffic constable who is said to have stopped his vehicle from taking an illegal u-turn on a bustling city road.

The Lok Sabha MP from Howrah, who won accolades and awards aplenty in the 1970s and early 80s for his soccer skills as a midfielder for the city's top football teams, has become only the latest in a long line of Trinamool leaders against whom there are complaints of taking the law in their own hands and even attacking police personnel.

However, Banerjee, who was honoured with an Arjuna Award Winner in 1979, has denied the charge.

"The constable lacks mental balance. I never attacked him. This is a conspiracy to malign me," said the brother of legendary Indian coach P.K. Banerjee and who also captained the Indian football team at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi.

But according to constable Taragati Biswas, he had asked the MP's driver Wednesday not to take the wrong u-turn and instead use a divider on the VIP Road that connects the NSC Bose International airport to the city.

"The driver went back, and returned with the MP, who slapped me after hurling abuses," said Biswas.

As the policeman's allegations were aired on television channels, civil society members and political opponents gunned for Banerjee, demanding his arrest for slapping a public servant.

After dilly-dallying for hours, police registered a case against Banerjee under section 353 of the Indian Penal Code (assaulting a public servant and preventing him from discharging his duty). It carries a maximum punishment of two year jail term.

In the recent past, a mob spearheaded by Trinamool leaders had stormed the Alipore police station. Earlier, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee threatened to "whip" policemen at a book fair after she was made to wait for her official car.

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