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Shunt sword over Birbhum top cop

- Police don’t seek rape accused custody

Jan. 23: The chief minister wants the removal of the Birbhum superintendent of police for not properly monitoring the Labhpur gang-rape case and is unhappy with the police for not seeking custody of the accused, sources close to Mamata Banerjee said.

Mamata, who is in Darjeeling, sought to know at the Sukna forest bungalow this evening if the 13 persons accused of gang-raping the 20-year-old girl had been taken into police custody.

“She got angry when told the accused had been remanded in judicial custody as the police did not seek their custody. She said the district police chief would have to be removed immediately,” a source said.

A senior police officer who met the girl and police superintendent C. Sudhakar in Suri today said: “We have received instructions and the SP is likely to be transferred shortly.”

Sudhakar did not take calls this evening. He had told The Telegraph earlier in the day: “We arrested all the accused within a few hours of the complaint being lodged. We don’t need police custody now. We will seek their custody on February 6.”

On the sidelines of a programme in Calcutta, governor M.K. Narayanan said “corporal punishment” should be given to the accused.

Another senior officer said Sudhakar “should have monitored the case personally”. “He should have instructed the officers of Labhpur police station to take all the accused into custody to ascertain the exact role of each,” he said.

“In the chargesheet, the police will have to mention in detail the role played by each accused. This is not possible without extensive interrogation,” the officer added.

Another officer said the local police “found no reason” to take the 13 into custody as all those named in the FIR had been rounded up. “So they might have thought that nobody needed to be traced through interrogation. Besides, there was nothing to recover as the victim had not mentioned any weapon,” he said.

No government lawyer was present in Bolpur additional chief judicial magistrate Pijush Ghosh’s court when the 13 accused were produced. Ghosh sent them to 14 days’ judicial custody.

The accused have been identified as Balai Maddi, Sunil Kisku, Chona Maddi, Madan Maddi, Gudo Maddi, Jetha Tudu, Lalu Murmu, Balu Tudu, Ram Soren, Jalha Maddi, Babu Maddi, Suresh Maddi and Debraj Mondal. They are aged between 18 and 48 years.

The assistant public prosecutor of the court, Firoz Kumar Pal, said he had called up the officer in charge of Labhpur police station, Debashis Ghosh, last night after hearing about the alleged rape. “The OC told me he was on leave. I did not know who the investigating officer was. Nobody from Labhpur police station contacted me today. So, no government lawyer was present in court,” he said.

A senior police officer in Birbhum said police custody was not sought as SP Sudhakar wanted the test identification parade to be done first. The parade can be done only in judicial custody.

Senior IPS officers expressed surprise at Birbhum police not seeking the accused’s custody. “The police should have petitioned for a full-term (14-day) custody,” an officer said.

“In such cases, taking the accused to the place of the crime and reconstructing the event are extremely important,” he added.

The officer did not find merit in the argument that the identification parade had to be done first. “Since the victim mentioned the names of all 13 accused in the FIR, it gives us the impression that she knew all of them. So, the parade should not have been the primary aim,” the officer said.