|The crowd at Mamata Banerjee’s Brigade rally on Thursday. Picture by Sanjoy Ghosh
Calcutta, Jan. 30: Mamata Banerjee today tore into the CBI for filing a chargesheet saying anti-land acquisition protesters in Nandigram had attacked police with bricks on March 14, 2007.
At the Brigade rally, the chief minister said: “A chargesheet has been submitted naming those who participated in the (anti-land acquisition) movement. A report has been submitted against six lower-level police officers. We want all the guilty to be punished. The senior officers have to be punished first. Action will be taken against the senior officers who opened fire on the instructions of Buddhadebbabu. Andolankarider gaye haat porle ora bujhe nebe (the protesters will know what to do if action is taken against them).”
After coming to power, the Mamata government had asked the CBI to “examine” former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s role in the police firing.
Calling the CBI names, Mamata said today: “The matter is not so easy, the game is not so easy. The government (Centre) is there for another 15-20 days. A government cannot be vengeful. The Congress Bureau of Investigation and the CPM Bureau of Investigation will not decide the country’s future.”
The CBI chargesheet, submitted to a Haldia court on December 20, does not mention any particular set of “six lower-level officers”.
The chargesheet the CBI submitted is on the role of villagers on the day of the police firing that killed 14 persons. The chargesheet on the police’s role on March 14, 2007, is yet to be submitted.
Although Mamata said action would be taken against guilty senior officers, the CBI is waiting since 2012 for the state government’s permission to prosecute three policemen.
“Three public servants were found to have committed offences for which sanction of prosecution from the state government was awaited. Supplementary chargesheet will be filed as soon as sanction for prosecution is received,” the chargesheet says.
In May 2012, CBI deputy inspector-general Arun Bothra had written to then chief secretary Samar Ghosh seeking permission to prosecute the three policemen, including two IPS officers.
The investigating agency had brought specific charges against Satyajit Bandhopadhyay, the then additional superintendent of police of Howrah; Debasish Boral, the then additional superintendent of Tamluk; and Shekhar Roy, the then officer in charge of Nandigram police station.
“We are waiting to prosecute the officers for being involved in disappearance of evidence of offence (Section 201 of the IPC), voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons (Section 326), culpable homicide not amounting to murder (Section 304) and attempt to culpable homicide (Section 308),” a CBI source said.
In the chargesheet submitted to the court, the CBI has held 166 people responsible for “brick-batting”. It has diluted the charges against the accused, booking them under IPC sections that carry a maximum punishment of three years in jail. The most stringent of the earlier charges, made by the police, is punishable with a life term.
On the role of the accused, the CBI chargesheet says: “The main objective of villagers was to oppose the entry of police. The additional superintendent of police, Haldia, made announcement on the loud hailer that police had arrived to maintain law and order in the area, the crowd opposed it and started pelting stones and bricks towards the Bhangabera bridge.”
In the chargesheet, the CBI first lists the “allegations made in FIR NO 38/07 of Nandigram Police Station” and then goes on to state what the central agency’s “investigation” has “disclosed”.
According to the police FIR, on March 14, 2007, cops had fired “as the last resort to disperse the armed mob to save the life of police party” after the protesters organised under anti-land acquisition outfit Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee “continued bombing, brick-batting and intermittent firing on the police”.
The CBI’s findings, however, do not mention firing and bombing. It states that the mob had resorted to brick-batting.