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Trial date 10 years after death

Krishnagar, Feb. 20: Ten years after his son died under mysterious circumstances while in custody of Ranaghat police, Nandadulal Chakraborty, a local-train hawker, has got the Nadia district court to take up the case against the errant policemen.

Since 14-year-old Raju Chakraborty died at Ranaghat hospital, Nandadulal had been running pillar to post praying for justice. The trial will begin next month.

On Christmas eve, 1993, Raju was accosted by some intoxicated night guards while returning home after attending midnight mass at the Dayabari church. The boy who only had a piece of bread with him was tied to a lamp-post and beaten up by the guards and handed over to the police.

The father alleged that the police, too, beat up Raju on hearing from the vigilantes that he was a drunken thief. He had to be admitted to the Ranaghat hospital next day. The father met Raju in hospital. He died the following day, before being produced in court.

“I found my son very depressed when I saw him the last time,” recalled Nandadulal. He refused to buy the police’s story that Raju died of the injuries suffered during the night guards’ assault. “How can I, when I spoke to my son the night before he died,” he said.

Nandadulal filed a case against the police in the sub-divisional judicial magistrate’s court in Ranaghat and prayed that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should inquire into the incident. The magistrate upheld the plea.

Nandadulal’s long quest for justice began when the CBI refused to probe the case and moved Calcutta High Court saying a lower court was not empowered to give directions to the CBI. The high court stood by the stand. A sub-divisional judicial magistrate cannot issue directives to the CBI, it said.

A human rights group — the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights — stepped in after nothing seemed to stir the system into making a thorough investigation into what led to Raju’s death. Nandadulal and the rights group went to the Supreme Court, which asked the CBI to step in.

In 2000, the CBI submitted a report holding two policemen at the Ranaghat police station guilty. It also submitted chargesheets against the officer in-charge and an assistant sub-inspector.

Then there was a row over the venue of the trial. The rights group told the district court that the Ranaghat sub-divisional judicial magistrate’s court could be manipulated upon by the police. Today, Nadia district judge Sabyasachi Banerjee ordered the trial to begin at the district court on March 15.

“I will not get my son back but I want that the policemen guilty of his death be brought to book and such incidents to not recur.

ends The trial begins next month.

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