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Mamata govt asks CBI to ‘examine’ Buddha on Nandi firing

Bhattacharjee

Calcutta, Jan. 31: The Bengal government has asked the CBI to “examine” former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in the Nandigram police firing case.

The query figures in a letter (Memo 987-PandAR-vig) dated December 5, 2012, from the state home department to the CBI in response to a CBI request seeking permission to prosecute some police officers in the case.

“Why Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who had given instruction to send the police to Nandigram was also not examined?” asked the letter signed by Basudeb Banerjee, the state home secretary.

Fourteen people had died in Nandigram in East Midnapore on March 14, 2007, in alleged police firing when the law enforcers tried to enter the area that had been out of bounds because of a movement against land acquisition.

Sources in the state secretariat said Banerjee’s letter was addressed to DIG, Special Crime-II, CBI, and mentioned that the state government was “not fully satisfied” with the CBI investigation.

“It is clear that the chief minister wants Bhattacharjee to be examined by the central agency and that’s why the letter has been sent,” said a home department official.

Bhattacharjee, who was lying low following the rout of the Left Front, has started touring the state in the past few months and has sharpened the attack on the new government.

“This is probably the Trinamul leadership’s way of getting back at the former chief minister. If the CBI finally ends up examining Bhattacharjee, it will be a huge embarrassment for him and the CPM,” said a Writers’ official.

Contacted, Basudeb Banerjee said: “We are in correspondence with the CBI but I cannot reveal the contents of the letter.”

Some officials in the home department defended the move to get Bhattacharjee “examined”, saying that as chief minister and home minister when the Nandigram firing took place, he must be held accountable.

The officials, however, did not respond when asked whether Mamata should be held accountable for the deaths because of police firing after Trinamul came to power. At least four persons have died in alleged police firing in the state since the Mamata government took over in May 2011.

According to a senior official, the main trigger behind the letter is the present government’s reservations about the CBI inquiry as it has left CPM leaders outside its purview till now. “The CM is of the opinion that the instruction to open fire came from a level much higher than a handful of police officers. The CBI investigation had completely overlooked that part.”

The central agency, which has wrapped up the investigation, has found six police officers and six government officials — including an IAS official and five IPS officers — involved in the firing. The extent of the alleged involvement, however, has been different for the set of 12. Two IPS officers and an inspector were found to have “direct involvement”.

The central agency’s plan to submit a chargesheet against the trio is stuck as the state government has not yet given the clearance — as required under Section 197 of the CrPC — to prosecute them.

“The government is not giving the go-ahead as it wants action against political leaders and some senior IPS officers,” said an official. “The CBI report has no mention of the political party supporters who had accompanied the police for capturing the land that day.”