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Govt orders Katwa OC’s arrest

Calcutta/ Burdwan, Feb. 26: The government has ordered the immediate suspension and arrest of the Katwa police station officer-in-charge who allegedly shot dead a Congress supporter from point blank range yesterday.

“All necessary steps are being taken against the OC,” the chief minister said early this afternoon.

A couple of hours later, home secretary P.R. Ray said: “I’ve asked the Burdwan superintendent of police to place the OC under suspension and arrest him immediately.”

Superintendent Peeyush Pandey said tonight that he had received the instruction but Debjyoti Saha had not been arrested.

“The process is on. Departmental proceedings are being initiated,” he added.

Tuhin Samanta, a Katwa resident and part-time teacher of a law college in Kandi, Murshidabad, was shot during a fracas over the election to the managing committee of Chandulia High School in which Congress activists accused their CPM counterparts of rigging.

Saha told his superiors his revolver went off accidentally in the melee. Inspector-general (law and order) Raj Kanojia said: “Saha claimed during interrogation that he fell down when the trigger got pulled.”

Saha, 42, a Bengal police sub-inspector of the 1987 batch, is known to be short-tempered. When he became the OC of Kanksa police station in the same district in 1998, he is said to have remained a spectator as CPM supporters ransacked houses of Trinamul Congress supporters at Basudebpur. The villagers moved the human rights commission and Saha was transferred to Andal but the charges could not be proved for lack of evidence.

He again came under the scanner in 2005 when he beat up the driver and conductor of a minibus that rammed into his vehicle at Pandaveswar, also in Burdwan. The same year, Saha fired at a mob agitating in front of a colliery office. He was beaten up and ended losing two of his teeth.

Samanta’s brother Tushar today filed a case against the OC and six CPM supporters who allegedly egged him on to shoot.

Her one-year-old daughter in arms, Samanta’s widow Nishad said: “He’s not being held as he is a police officer.”

The OC was taken off duty yesterday. “I’ll submit the circle inspector’s inquiry report to my superiors in Calcutta tomorrow,” said the district police chief.

The CPM denied the allegations against its supporters. “We did not know Tuhin Samanta before he was killed,” claimed district party secretary Amal Halder.

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