Calcutta HC orders CBI probe into TMC panchayat leader Bhadu Sheikh’s murder case


The Calcutta high court on Friday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) panchayat leader Bhadu Sheikh’s murder, which triggered the March 21 massacre of nine people at Bogtoi in Bengal’s Birbhum. “The second incident prima facie seems to be the fall out of the first incident,” the court said while ordering the probe.

A division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj on March 25 ordered the CBI probe into the massacre. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the state police was earlier probing the massacre. It arrested 22 people, including local TMC leader Anarul Hossain.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee visited Bogtui on March 24 and announced compensation for the victims amid criticism over the killings. Hossain claimed he surrendered to police following Banerjee’s order. Banerjee later said the attackers and the victims in both cases were TMC supporters.

The CBI submitted its preliminary probe report on the massacre on Thursday to the high court. One of the five petitioners, who demanded the CBI probe, said the agency should also investigate Bhadu Sheikh’s murder since the two incidents were connected. The court on Friday said the CBI’s report prima facie suggested the killings at Bogtui were a fallout of the Bhadu Sheikh’s murder. “It also suggests that the incident is an outcome of the rivalry amongst the members of two groups in the village and that burning of the houses resulting into death of 8 persons was a retaliatory plan.”

The court said both incidents took place within about two hours. “Material placed on record prima facie suggests a close relationship and linkage between the two incidents. The incidents are alleged to be a result of political rivalry. The allegation of the applicants that both incidents form part of the common conspiracy and continuous cause of action cannot be ignored,” the court said. “...if one agency investigates both the incidents then not only it will be easier to unearth the truth but it will also facilitate trial before the same competent court.” Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party leader Samik Bhattacharya said the court’s order proves that it has no faith in the state police.

TMC leaders did not react till Friday afternoon saying the government would decide how to deal with it.

The CBI on Thursday arrested four Bogtui residents from Mumbai in connection with the massacre on the basis of their phones, which were found to be in use around the site of the killings.

At least 10 houses were set afire and the arson left nine people, including six women and two children, dead.

On April 4, a single-judge high court bench ordered a CBI probe into Congress councillor Tapan Kandu’s murder in Purulia district on March 13.

The CBI and Enforcement Directorate are probing the coal, the cattle smuggling cases as well as the Saradha chit fund, the Rose Valley chit fund and the Narada sting operation cases. Several TMC leaders, ministers and lawmakers are among the accused in these cases.

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