The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday sought response from the State government as well the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a plea against the constitution of a five-member fact-finding committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to probe into the violence in Birbhum district of West Bengal, in which ten persons were killed allegedly in retaliation to the murder of local All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Bhadu Sheikh.
The Court vide order dated March 25, 2022, had ordered a CBI investigation into the incident of violence. Thereafter, on April 8, 2022, the Court had also directed the CBI to probe into the murder of TMC leader Bhadu Sheikh, opining that the material on record prima facie suggests that there is a close relationship and linkage between the two incidents.
The plea filed by petitioner one Preeti Kar contended that since the CBI is already enquiring into the incident, no 'parallel enquiry' by the fact finding committee of the BJP is required as it might delay the progress of the overall investigation.
Taking cognisance of the grievance raised, a Bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj directed the counsel for the petitioner to serve copies of the plea to all concerned counsels including the CBI within 2 days.
Furthermore, the Court directed the CBI as well as the State government to obtain instructions in the matter before the next date of hearing which is slated to take place on June 13.
According to reports, the fact-finding committee of the BJP submitted its report to party chief JP Nadda in March, 2022 pertaining to the incident of violence. The report claims that the "mafia is ruling West Bengal in connivance with police and political leadership". The BJP's fact-finding team submitted that the law and order machinery has totally collapsed and the law-abiding citizens have lost faith in the government and the mode of TMC's governance.
Following the Birbhum violence, Nadda had formed a five-member fact-finding committee comprising four former IPS officers and West Bengal state BJP president Sukanta Majumdar.
The members of the committee include Shri Brj Lal- RS MP and Former Uttar Pradesh DGP; LS MP and Former Police Commissioner of Mumbai Satyapal Singh; RS MP and former IPS officer K.C. Ramamurty; Sukanto Majumdar- Lok Sabha MP Lok and West Bengal BJP President; Bharati Ghosh- National Spokesperson & Former IPS officer of West Bengal.
The violence in Birbhum's Bogtui village took place following the alleged murder of Bhadu Sheikh, a panchayat leader of the ruling Trinamool Congress. He died after miscreants allegedly hurled bombs at him on March 21.
Hours later, violence erupted and several houses, including two belonging to the men accused of Sheikh's murder, were allegedly attacked and set on fire resulting in eight deaths, including that of women and children.
The police recovered eight charred bodies, primarily of women and children from the gutted houses in Bogtui village. Three victims were admitted to the local hospital. A woman who had received 25 percent burn injuries in the carnage succumbed to her injuries on Sunday. The death toll currently stands at ten.
Taking cognisance of the violence, the State government had formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by the additional director general of police (CID), Gyanwant Singh, to probe the incident. However, subsequently, the investigation was handed over to the CBI pursuant to the directions of the Calcutta High Court.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also taken suo motu cognizance of the matter and issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, West Bengal calling for a detailed report in the matter within 4 weeks including the status for the FIRs registered in the matter, steps taken to ensure safety of the people in the village and any relief or rehabilitation provided by the State Government.
The Court last month had dismissed a prayer seeking cancellation of bail granted to two minor accused persons by the Principal Magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board, Birbhum at Suri in the case by observing that since the aggrieved parties have the remedy of filing a revision petition before the High Court under Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (2015 Act) such a plea seeking cancellation of bail cannot be entertained.