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Dhantola accused denied bail

Ranaghat, March 21: Aranghata CPM zonal committee member Subol Bagchi, former panchayat pradhan Saidul Karigar and 20 others arrested in connection with Dhantola gang-rape were denied bail today by the sub-divisional judicial magistrate here.

“All the accused persons are denied bail even if some of them are sick. The jail authorities are, therefore, ordered to take necessary steps regarding the treatment of the undertrials,” ruled Yasmin Fatima, the acting sub-divisional judicial magistrate.

Kamal Sardar, another person arrested from Bagda in North 24-Parganas on March 3 for the same crime, was produced in court and remanded in police custody for another four days. Kamal, who was in the custody of the Burdwan police, had been produced in court there on March 17 in connection with another case.

Kamal broke down in court today and repeatedly pleaded that he was innocent. “I am a poor farmer and I have nothing to do with the crime. I was badly beaten up by the police in Burdwan, please let me go,” a sobbing Kamal told the court. The man alleged that he was tortured by the police during interrogation. “I know nothing,” he kept on saying.

The magistrate confirmed that at least five accused have been identified by the rape victims and other passengers as being members of the gang that waylaid the two buses carrying wedding guests on February 6 at Ainsmali in Nadia’s Dhatola police station area.

Sources in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) — in charge of the investigation now — said another round of the “test identification” parade was held today. Mostly male passengers of the buses were asked to identify their attackers this time. Earlier, five women victims had identified Lodhai Sardar, Putu Sardar and Parimal Sardar as being among those who raped them.

Unlike yesterday when at least five thousand people from Dhantola came to the court to show solidarity with Bagchi, no one was present when their bail petition was turned down.

On another front in the investigation, the manhunt for Cheema Sardar is on. The leader of the dacoit gang that had robbed the passengers made a daring escape from CID custody on Wednesday.

The search has so far drawn a blank. Deputy inspector-general of police, CID, Raj Kanojia said several teams have fanned out in the districts. “We have alerted the police superintendents of all districts in the state. We hope to get him soon,” he added.

A manacled Cheema, who was arrested from Ashoknagar in North 24-Parganas on Tuesday, attacked a sub-inspector of the CID and a National Volunteer Force guard at the detective department inspector’s office here on Wednesday night.

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