The Calcutta High Court Friday handed over the probe into the murder of the deputy gram pradhan Bhadu Sheikh, which allegedly sparked retaliatory violence in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The Court opined that the two incidents — the murder of the panchayat leader associated with the TMC and the Birbhum violence that led to the deaths of at least nine — are interlinked. It directed the state police to hand over all the records of the investigation and the accused who have been arrested in connection with the murder case to the CBI.
“The CBI is directed to investigate the murder case of Bhadu Sheikh along with the investigation in the case of Bogtui house-burning and murders. The CBI is directed to file a further report of investigation in both the cases on the next date of hearing,” ordered the Court.
On Thursday, the central agency had submitted a progress report on their probe in the March 21 violence case under a sealed cover before the division bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj. The High Court, however, had reserved its order on whether the CBI should also probe Sheikh’s murder.
“The report 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 in the death of eight persons was a retaliatory plan. In the applications filed before this Court, it has been alleged that the unfortunate incident of setting ten houses on fire is not an isolated and independent incident, rather it is a counter-blast to the murder of Bhadu Sk who was the Upa-Pradhan, allegedly belonging to the ruling party in the state. Both the incidents took place within a gap of 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,” read the order.
The High Court had on March 25 ordered the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the state government to probe the violence to hand over the investigation to the CBI. The Court further ordered the SIT to hand over all papers related to the case to the CBI and all the 22 suspects, including TMC block president Anarul Hossain, arrested by them.
The murder of Bhadu Sheikh in Rampurhat in the evening on March 21 had sparked off a chain of events. At least eight houses were attacked and set on fire, leading to the death of nine people, including women and children. Out of the nine, seven charred bodies were found in the house of one Sona Sheikh.