The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Unsafe tag on Bengal

Calcutta, Sept. 3: The Avijit Sinha death case took a significant turn in Calcutta High Court today when customs and central excise authorities alleged that the “safety and security of Central government employees in West Bengal (is) at stake.”

Reacting strongly to the affidavit filed by the excise authorities, state government pleader Rabilal Moitra demanded a court order asking for its withdrawal.

Justice A. Kabir adjourned the matter till September 12 and allowed the government to file a counter affidavit.

Avijit Sinha, a central excise inspector, had committed suicide on July 7 after being “tortured mentally” by Midnapore police for his alleged links with Naxalite outfits.

His widow Manasi Sinha filed a case before the high court demanding a CBI probe into her husband’s death.

Along with Manasi’s petition, the customs and excise authorities had submitted a certificate of Avijit and demanded action against the police personnel responsible for his death.

The court had asked the customs and central excise to file an affidavit. Assistant commissioner of customs Jatin Das filed the affidavit on behalf of the chief commissioner of customs and Central excise, A.K. Chopra, today.

The affidavit said: “If they (the police) had information that Avijit had links with People’s War, they should have informed us first. We could have made a departmental inquiry or asked the CBI to look into the charges.”

The department added that the case was a pointer to the fact that no Central employee was secure in Bengal.

But the state government’s pleader argued that a Central department had no authority to make a statement on what the police should have done or on the law and order situation in the state.

The government had taken a serious view of the affidavit, he said. Before the submission of the report by customs, Manasi’s counsel Alok Mitra told the court that the affidavit submitted by the state government stating that they had neither arrest nor detained Avijit was a blunt lie. “Police had not even carried out the orders of the apex court during the abduction of Avijit from his residence on July 4 mid night,” he said.

Mitra demanded that the court order a CBI inquiry into the matter to uncover the true picture. He also opposed the prayer of the state government seeking time from court to file fresh affidavit. “By this, they (state government) want to further delay the matter.”

The state government had last week furnished an affidavit on the basis of a report of the Midnapore superintendent of police in the case.

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