The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court skirts suicide probe
- Sinha death rap on police, widow vows to move higher bench

Calcutta, April 8: Calcutta High Court today declined to order a CBI probe into the death of Avijit Sinha, the customs officer who committed suicide after he was detained by police and allegedly tortured for suspected links with the People’s War.

Avijit’s widow Manasi, who had filed a petition seeking a CBI probe into the cause of her husband’s death, said she would move a higher court.

Justice Altamas Kabir said he was not directing any further inquiry as the state government had set up a one-man commission to unravel the reason behind the death. He, however, mentioned in the judgment that the commission had said that the police should have exercised more restraint while dealing with Sinha.

Avijit was picked up by the Midnapore police at midnight on July 4 last year for his alleged involvement in anti-national activities in collaboration with the Naxalites. After a long interrogation, police had released Avijit on the night of July 6. The next day, the customs official committed suicide by throwing himself before a train at Dum Dum cantonment station.

The two-page verdict mentioned that the police had violated the 11-point norm fixed by the Supreme Court pertaining to detention and interrogation of persons while taking away Avijit. It added that the government had failed to give a clear explanation of where the police had held Avijit from 1 to 5.30 am after whisking him away.

Manasi said the judgment did not mention what steps the police took on the FIR she lodged in Dum Dum police station on July 14, 2002, alleging that torture in police custody had prompted Avijit to commit suicide. In her petition on July 29, she had sought punishment for the “guilty policemen”.

Counsel Alok Mitra and Rajesh Ganguly argued that the police did not follow the 11-point norm while picking up Avijit. “According to the norms, the wife of the victim should have been told why Avijit was taken into custody and where the police was keeping him during his detention,” they said.

Appearing for the state, advocate-general Balai Ray said special secretary, home department, Arun Mishra was directed by the state to inquire into the matter and had submitted a report. He placed the report before the court but refused to give a copy to the petitioner. Ray had admitted in court that the commission had opined that the police should have been more restrained in dealing with the case.

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