Why not order CBI probe in Lalgarh carnage: Court

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

KOLKATA - The Calcutta High Court Tuesday ordered the West Bengal government to respond to allegations made in a suit seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Jan 7 killing of villagers near Lalgarh in West Midnapore district.

Along with a public interest litigation (PIL) by the Calcutta High Court Bar Association, two more pleas were filed Tuesday on the Jan 7 Netai village carnage in the court.

Seven people were shot dead and 17 wounded in clashes triggered by assailants allegedly backed by the ruling Marxists in Netai near Lalgarh.

The pleas praying for a CBI investigation in the carnage came up before the division bench of Chief Justice J.N. Patel and Justice A.K. Roy.

Representing the petitioners, Kalyan Banerjee alleged there were 30 armed camps in villages around Lalgarh in the district.

Letters written by union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee mentioning the existence of the camps were quoted by the petitioners to substantiate their claim.

Banerjee alleged that these camps were under the patronage of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the party workers had been torturing villagers for the past eight months.

On repeated allegations made by the petitioners about the camps belonging to the CPI-M, Chief Justice Patel asked the petitioners why they were not making the party as one of the respondents. Banerjee replied that he would explore the possibility.

The court asked the petitioners to file an affidavit giving details of all the armed camps allegedly existing in and around Lalgarh village.

Advocate General Balai Roy opposed the plea for a CBI investigation in the Jan 7 carnage and contended that the criminal investigation department (CID) of police had made considerable progress in the investigation.

Thirty witnesses have been questioned till now and a forensic team was at the spot. Handing over the case to some other agency at this point will defeat the purpose of the investigation, Roy said.

On the petitioners’ plea for compensation for the victims, Roy argued that the killings were the result of a fight between two groups and it was not the state which killed them so it was not the obligation of the state to pay compensation.

The bench after hearing the pleas of both the parties ordered the state government to file an affidavit by Jan 13 responding to all allegations made by petitioners.

The state government was also asked to state its stand on the issue of handing over of the investigation to the CBI.

The next hearing on the matter is slated for Jan 14.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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