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Govt skirts SIT poser

Calcutta, July 22: The state government today told Calcutta High Court that Sagar Ghosh was murdered because of “political rivalry” but underscored that Birbhum district Trinamul president Anubrata Mondal was in no way connected with it.

Appearing for the state, public prosecutor Manjit Singh told Justice Harish Tandon: “Sagar Ghosh was murdered due to political rivalry. But primary investigation by the special investigating team… has revealed that the July 17 speech by the political leader (Anubrata Mondal) has no connection with the incident.”

At one point, Justice Tandon asked the public prosecutor: “This court had appointed the SIT to conduct the probe. Does this court have the authority to call the chief of the SIT and ask him about the details of the investigation?”

Public prosecutor Singh evaded a direct response and said: “Since the SIT had submitted its chargesheet, this court has no jurisdiction to hand over the probe to any other agency, including the CBI.”

Sagar Ghosh was shot dead by alleged Trinamul activists four days after Mondal, in a speech on July 17 last year, told Trinamul workers to “burn down” houses of party dissidents contesting as Independents and “hurl bombs” at police if they came to the rescue. The attack came days after Sagar Ghosh’s son Hriday decided to contest the panchayat polls as an Independent.

Today, Singh told the court that the SIT had filed its chargesheet against eight persons and Mondal’s name was not in it. He said: “The government thinks that the speech that the political leader had delivered on July 17 last year was not desirable. But the petitioners… have disturbed the investigation by implicating the leader and his speech in the murder.”

Shibani, the daughter-in law of Sagar Ghosh, had filed an FIR on July 23 last year alleging that Mondal and 40 Trinamul activists were responsible for her father-in-law’s murder.

The government had said that Sagar Ghosh’s wife Saraswati filed an FIR on July 22 last year in which Mondal’s name was not mentioned, though the family contested this claim, saying Saraswati was forced by police to sign a blank sheet of paper.

Today, the public prosecutor said: “Saraswati had signed the July 22 FIR, Shibani had written the text of it.”

Justice Tandon said: “But in her July 23 FIR, Shibani mentioned the name of that political leader (Mondal) at the top of the list.”

Singh replied: “How could investigators believe that woman (Shibani). In the FIR she had mentioned 41 accused. But during her statement before the magistrate, she mentioned only 22, and she could identify only three.”

The judge asked: “How many days after the incident did she testify before the magistrate?” Singh said: “The incident took place in July 2013, and the statement was recorded in February this year.”

The judge noted down the submission and, at this juncture, asked if the chief of the SIT could be called to court.