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CBI gathers evidence from houses set on fire in Birbhum

Central Forensic Science Laboratory’s (CFSL) experts collect samples in presence of  CBI officers from the houses at Bogtui village in Birbhum district, on March 26, 2022.

Central Forensic Science Laboratory’s (CFSL) experts collect samples in presence of CBI officers from the houses at Bogtui village in Birbhum district, on March 26, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

A team of officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday visited Bogtui village in West Bengal ‘s Birbhum district where eight persons were burnt to death on March 21 following the murder of a local Trinamool Congress leader. The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the CBI to probe the violence in the “interest of justice”, “fair investigation” and to “instill confidence in society”.

During the day, CBI officers led by DIG Akhilesh Singh visited the village and inspected the houses that were set on fire. The CBI team comprising over a dozen personnel went to the house of Sona Sheikh where seven persons were charred to death.

The investigating officers went to the room from where the bodies were recovered and also to the terrace of the house. They also visited the other houses that were set on fire and used a digital three– dimensional scanning device to collect evidence.

Forensic experts collected samples from the site for the second consecutive day. While the investigators were collecting evidence, TMC Rampurhat Block–I president Anaraul Hossain, who was arrested on the instructions of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, said “there has been a conspiracy” against him. The TMC leader, who was being taken to hospital by the police, told the media that he was at his house on the night of March 21 when the violence occurred and the police did not call him. The Chief Minister had blamed the local leader along with the Rampurhat Sub-Divisional Police Office for the violence. The SDPO has been removed and sent on compulsory waiting.

The FIR filed by the CBI has said the violence and setting houses on fire was in retaliation to the murder of Bhadu Sheikh. Sheikh, a deputy pradhan and local TMC leader, was murdered outside the village on March 21 and his supporters went on the rampage attacking and setting on fire houses of the other faction in the village who are also supporters of the TMC.

“During preliminary enquiry, it was learnt that as a retaliation of the incident of murder of Bhadu Sk, the followers and associates of slain Bhadu Sk (22 persons as named earlier) along with 70/80 others in the form of an unruly mob ransacked the houses of the persons as noted above and set fire to the houses with a view to kill the persons inside and their family inmates as a result of which 07 (seven) were charred to death and four other persons sustained burnt injuries,”  the CBI’s FIR said.

Later, of the four injured victims, Mina Bibi succumbed to her injuries at a hospital taking the toll to eight.

The FIR registered against 22 persons includes charges of punishment for murder, attempt to murder, rioting, rioting with armed and deadly weapons and use of fire and explosive substances to destroy a house among others.  The accused named in the FIR are all locals from the village or nearby areas.

The district administration supplied relief materials to the villagers of Bagtui who have taken shelter at Sainthia about 50 km from the violence–affected village. The relief material included food grains and baby food. Later in the day, chairperson of West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights Ananya Chakraborty Chatterjee visited Sainthia and met the families affected by the violence. Among the eight burnt to death was one child, six women and one man. 

A three–year–old child died on Saturday in an explosion at Kaliachak in Malda district. The police have sought the help of forensic experts to ascertain the reason for the explosion. 

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 3:11:33 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/cbi-team-visits-bogtui-village-fir-says-houses-set-on-fire-in-retaliation-to-a-murder/article65262332.ece