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Delay in probe on Nandi cops

Calcutta, Dec. 23: The Mamata Banerjee government is yet to permit the CBI to prosecute policemen, including two IPS officers, accused in the Nandigram firing even after six months of the central agency seeking its nod.

Opposition leaders said the Trinamul Congress chief had failed to keep her pre-election promise of bringing “justice” to the people of Nandigram, where 14 land protesters were killed in police firing on March 14, 2007. A reminder from the CBI to the state government to either grant permission to chargesheet the officers or explain the reasons for the delay reached Writers’ Buildings earlier this month.

“A letter (memo number 6229) dated November 29, 2012, reached Bengal chief secretary Sanjay Mitra’s office earlier this month. It’s a reminder to an earlier letter (memo number 2242A) dated May 23, 2012, in which the CBI had sought the government’s permission to prosecute the accused policemen,” a senior state home department said.

Another home department official said: “According to a Supreme Court directive, a sanction sought by an investigating agency should not be withheld for over three months.”

The apex court had made the observation while hearing a case in December 1997.

Police sources, however, said the Supreme Court observation was a guideline and was nothing more than a moral binding on the state.

Congress leaders accused the government of delaying the Nandigram probe for its “vested interests”.

“Mamata Banerjee had lied to the people of Nandigram for votes. She is only interested in grabbing power. Despite the tall claims, none of the officers who were involved in the firing have been punished. Rather, they all are enjoying good postings,” said junior railway minister Adhir Chowdhury. “She (Mamata) is looking after the interests of the bureaucrats, who in return are helping her hide the government’s shortcomings,” the Murshidabad Congress leader added.

Junior union urban development Deepa Das Munshi echoed Adhir. “I am surprised the government is not giving priority to a case as sensitive as this one. There should be a probe on why the government is holding back sanction.”

The Telegraph had reported on June 6 that the CBI had sought the state government’s permission to prosecute two IPS officers — Satyajit Bandhopadhyay, the then additional superintendent of police of Howrah, and Debasish Boral, the then additional SP of Tamluk, and Shekhar Roy, the then officer in charge of Nandigram police station.

The three were present in Nandigram on the day of the firing.

The three officers have been charged under IPC Sections 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence or providing false information to screen offenders, 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 308 (attempt to culpable homicide).

The CBI had 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.

The agency had also recommended “major penalty” to 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.