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Plea Filed Against BJP Panel Probing Into Birbhum Massacre, Seeks Response From CBI & State: In Calcutta High Court

In a petition opposing the formation of a five-member fact-finding committee by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to look into the violence in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, where ten people were allegedly killed in retaliation for the killing of local All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Bhadu Sheikh, the Calcutta High Court sought responses from the State government and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

A CBI investigation into the violent incident in the case of Anindya Sundar Das v. Union of India (WPA (P) 130 of 2022) was mandated by the Bench of the Honorable Chief Justice Praksh Shrivastava and the Honorable Justice Pajarshi Bharadwaj by order dated March 25, 2022. After that, on April 8, 2022, the Court also ordered the CBI to conduct an investigation into the murder of TMC leader Bhadu Sheikh, stating that the evidence on file presumptively indicates that there is a connection and relationship between the two incidents.

Facts of the case:

Following the alleged murder of Bhadu Sheikh, a panchayat leader for the in power Trinamool Congress, violence broke out in Birbhum’s Bogtui village. On March 21, he allegedly had bombs thrown at him before dying.

Several houses, including two owned by the men accused of killing Sheikh, are said to have been attacked and set on fire hours later, resulting in eight deaths, including women and children.

Eight burned bodies, mostly those of women and children, were found by the police in the Bogtui village’s gutted homes. The nearby hospital received three victims for admission. On Sunday, a woman who had suffered 25% burns in the carnage passed away from her wounds. Ten people have currently passed away.

In response to the violence, the State government established a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the leadership of Gyanwant Singh, additional director general of police (CID), to look into the situation. However, as a result of the Calcutta High Court’s instructions, the investigation was subsequently turned over to the CBI.

The Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police in West Bengal have been served notices by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which has also taken suo motu cognizance of the situation. The notices demand a detailed report on the situation within four weeks, as well as information on the status of the FIRs filed in the case, the measures taken to ensure the safety of the villagers, and any assistance or rehabilitation given by the State Government.

In her petition, petitioner Preeti Kar argued that since the CBI is already looking into the incident, there is no need for a “parallel inquiry” by the BJP fact-finding committee because doing so could stall the investigation’s overall course.

Court’s Findings:

A Bench made up of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj took notice of the complaint and ordered the petitioner’s attorney to serve copies of the plea to all parties involved, including the CBI, within two days.

The Court further ordered the CBI and the State government to receive instructions in the matter prior to the upcoming hearing date, scheduled for June 3.

According to reports, the BJP’s fact-finding committee handed its report on the violent incident to party leader JP Nadda in March 2022. According to the report, the “mafia is ruling West Bengal with the cooperation of the police and political leadership.” The law-abiding citizens have lost faith in the government and the TMC’s style of governance, according to the BJP’s fact-finding team, which claimed that the law and order apparatus has completely collapsed.

In the wake of the Birbhum violence, Nadda assembled a five-person fact-finding committee, including Sukanta Majumdar, the West Bengal state BJP president, and four former IPS officers.

Shri Brj Lal, an RS MP and a former DGP of Uttar Pradesh, Satyapal Singh, an LS MP and a former police commissioner of Mumbai, K.C. Ramamurty, an RS MP and a former IPS officer, Sukanto Majumdar, the president of the BJP in West Bengal and the Lok Sabha, and Bharati Ghosh, the national spokesperson and a former IPS officer from West Bengal are members of the committee.

With the remark that the aggrieved parties have the right to file a revision petition before the High Court under Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (2015 Act), the Court last month rejected 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.

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Judgement Reviewed By Manju Molakalapalli.

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