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Kerosene case diluted

Calcutta, Jan. 16: Calcutta police have watered down the case against Jyotirmoy Nandi, the pest controller who had been arrested in November for allegedly plotting to set Writers’ ablaze, replacing conspiracy charges with that of negligence.

The negligence charge carries a maximum punishment of six months in jail, while the conspiracy charges entail a life term.

“We have not got any evidence of Jyotirmoy conspiring to set Writers’ Buildings on fire,” an officer of Hare Street police station said today.

Jyotirmoy, 47, had earlier been charged under IPC Sections 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy a house) and 511 (attempting to commit the offence defined by Section 436). The maximum punishment under both sections is a life term.

Both charges have been replaced with Section 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter).

Home secretary Basudeb Banerjee had on November 29 alleged that a plot had been hatched to set Writers’ ablaze after kerosene was found sprinkled on the floor of the home (publication) department.

Hours later, the police had asked Jyotirmoy, who had been hired to spray pesticide, to report to Hare Street police station. He was arrested the next day.

Jyotirmoy was granted unconditional bail six days later. The government lawyer did not oppose his plea, which lawyers not connected to the case had said showed how flimsy the case against the pest controller was.

Another officer of Hare Street police station said today: “Jyotirmoy used to sprinkle kerosene on the floor after spraying the pesticide as it is the best way to keep insects away. That day, he had sprinkled the excess kerosene on the floor before leaving. We didn’t find any conspiracy to burn down Writers’.”

Bismay Rai, the registrar of the home (publication) department who had hired Jyotirmoy, was suspended on December 18 for a “procedural lapses”.