Calcutta, June 6: The CBI has sought the government’s permission to prosecute two IPS officers for alleged involvement in the 2007 Nandigram police firing in which 14 persons were killed.
The investigating agency has also recommended disciplinary or departmental action against nine other officers, including one from the IAS and three from the IPS.
A letter dated May 23, 2012, (memo number 2242A) and undersigned by CBI deputy inspector-general Arun Bothra reached the office of chief secretary Samar Ghosh on Monday, seeking the permission and making the recommendations.
“The letter from the CBI headquarters in New Delhi has sought permission to prosecute Satyajit Bandhopadhyay, the then additional superintendent of police (SP) of Howrah; Debasish Boral, the then additional SP of Tamluk; and Shekhar Roy, who was the officer in charge of Nandigram police station, under specific charges of the Indian Penal Code,” a source in the state home department who has seen the letter said.
Charges of causing disappearance of evidence of offence or providing false information to screen offenders (201 of the IPC), voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons (326 of the IPC), culpable homicide not amounting to murder (304 of the IPC) and attempt to culpable homicide (308 of the IPC) have been levelled against the three officers, the source added. The charges entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
| The Tekhali bridge, one of the sites of the police firing
The three were present in Nandigram on the day of the firing.
While Bandhopadhyay is now the deputy commissioner (eastern suburban division) of Calcutta police, Boral is the superintendent of railway police (Kharagpur). Roy is now the officer in charge of East Bidhannagar police station. Bandhopadhyay and Boral are IPS officers.
The CBI, which claimed it had “clinching evidence” against the three officers, needs the state government’s clearance to mention the trio in the chargesheet and start proceedings against them.
“Section 197 of the CrPC says an investigating agency requires the sanction of the state government in case a government official commits a crime while on duty and is liable to be prosecuted. The CBI has written to the chief secretary, seeking permission to prosecute the three police officers,” a senior state secretariat official said.
The CBI has recommended “appropriate disciplinary action” against senior IPS officers Arun Kumar Gupta, the then inspector-general of police (western zone); N.R. Babu, the then deputy inspector-general of police (Midnapore Range); and Ganji Anil Srinivas, the then East Midnapore SP.
“It is up to the state government to penalise the officers against whom disciplinary action has been recommended. They will not be prosecuted or their names will not feature in the chargesheet,” a state home department official said.
Sources said that in such cases, only a departmental inquiry is initiated against the named officers.
Gupta is now the additional director-general and inspector-general of police (traffic), while Babu is the IG, traffic. Srinivas was suspended recently in connection with the recovery of skeletons in West Midnapore’s Benachapra.
The agency has also recommended a “major penalty” against six other officials who were posted in East Midnapore at the time of the firing.
A government official said the penalty included dismissal from service. The CBI has not specified any punishment in its recommendations. Those against whom the punishment has been suggested are IAS officer Anoop Kumar Agarwal, the then district magistrate of East Midnapore; Shankar Halder, the then sub-divisional officer (SDO) of Haldia; Tarun Mukherjee, the then SDO of Contai; Sukumar Paraspat, the then ADM of Haldia; Swarup Kumar Mullick, the then block development officer of Haldia; and Swapan Kumar Dey, the then circle inspector of Mahisadal.
Agarwal is now secretary in the animal resources development department.
The home department official said the CBI had “not mentioned” the charges against those against whom it had suggested disciplinary action. “They have made the recommendations based on their findings and the nature of involvement of the officials.”
Highly placed sources in the home department said the final decision would be taken by the chief minister.
Chief secretary Ghosh today held a meeting with home secretary Basudeb Banerjee and DG Naparajit Mukherjee to discuss the matter. The sources said the government was contemplating whether to sanction the proceedings and accept the recommendations of the agency.
Roy, the East Bidhannagar OC, said he did not know about the CBI letter. “I am hearing this from you,” he told The Telegraph.
Bandhopadhyay said: “I have nothing to say.”