Mamata cries conspiracy, demands impartial investigation

After the Calcutta High Court ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the Birbhum violence, agency officers have questioned the role of some high-ranking policemen of the district.

Eight people were killed in the Rampurhat area of Birbhum on Tuesday after a mob allegedly set houses on fire following the killing of TMC leader Bhadu Sheikh.

Based on preliminary investigation, CBI investigators have learned that the local police arrived at the crime scene from the office of the Superintendent of Police (Headquarters) in Surrey shortly after Bhadu Sheikh’s murder around 8.30pm on Monday (March 21).

CBI sources said the local police were more focused on arresting the assassins of Bhadu Sheikh. According to the police, the massacre site is just one kilometre from the national highway. However, they took 30 minutes to visit the violence site.

The CBI investigators claimed that after Sheikh was injured in the bomb blast at 8.30 pm, his supporters rushed him to Rampurhat Medical College. Upon receiving the news, the senior officers of the district police reached the spot with their forces.

Within an hour of Sheikh’s murder, homes of several people were set on fire in Bagtui village. The CBI investigators claimed that more than a hundred policemen from the district headquarters and a joint force of Rampurhat and Nalhati police stations were in the vicinity of the village. Then why the police did not go to the village despite being so close, the investigators asked.

How such a big incident happened even after the presence of several high-ranking officers of the district will be investigated, CBI sources said.

An investigator said: “The question remains as to why the miscreants were not stopped despite the presence of the police force so close to the scene.”

On the other hand, a preliminary investigation by the state’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) said that reports of bombings and arsons in the village at the night had not reached the district police officers. The state government has taken “punitive” action against two Rampurhat police officers for negligence in the case.

Rampurhat Trinamool leader Anarul Hossain has been arrested in connection with the case. Preliminary investigations have also revealed that several policemen and influential leaders of the district had spoken to Anarul on his cellphone on the night of the incident. Anarul will be taken into custody and interrogated.

A senior CBI official said: “The number of cellphones used in the area from 8 pm to dawn will be ascertained. Anarul’s call records will be recovered to see if there is a conversation between policemen, civic volunteers and political influential people.”

According to CBI sources, those involved in the incident will be summoned and questioned.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday clarified that the Trinamool Congress has no role in the violence and that there is a conspiracy behind the incident, adding that CBI should not follow BJP’s direction in the ongoing investigation.