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7-month wait for death report

It has taken the state government seven months to decide on a date for submitting to Calcutta High Court the report of a one-man commission probing the suicide of customs inspector Abhijit Sinha. The court is expected to receive the report, submitted to the state government in July 2002 by Arun Mishra, special secretary to the home department, on Friday.

The high court had earlier asked the state government to submit the commission’s report after Sinha’s widow, Manasi, filed a writ petition demanding a CBI probe to find out whether her husband’s death was caused by police torture during his detention. Advocate-general Balai Ray told the court on Friday that he was ready to submit the report. However, as the court was adjourned for the day, it could not be done.

Justice Altamas Kabir directed the advocate-general to submit the report on Friday when the case would come up for hearing.

Abhijit was picked up by the Midnapore police from his Dum Dum residence on the midnight of July 4 for his alleged involvement with Peoples’ War and kept in the police lock-up for interrogation. Sinha was released on July 5. On July 7, he committed suicide by jumping before a running train near Ultadanga.

Sinha’s wife and friends alleged police torture on him during detention. They said the customs inspector committed suicide as he was unable to bear the torture and loss of reputation in his neighbourhood and workplace. Sinha’s suicide gave rise to a public outcry and the government was forced to form a one-member commission, headed by Mishra, to find out whether he was tortured.

Though Mishra submitted his findings to the government within the scheduled time of one month, it was neither submitted to the court nor made public. Six hearings took place, but the commission’s report was not submitted.

Rajesh Ganguly, advocate for the petitioner, felt the government was “intentionally delaying” submission of the commission’s report. “It is an important document for us. We have urged the government time and again to submit it to the court, but our pleas went unheeded,” he said.

Home secretary A.K. Deb said the delay was due to procedural technicalities. “The delay was unintentional,” he said.

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