The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Judge raps govt in Sinha case

Calcutta, Jan. 31: A Calcutta High Court judge today rebuked the government for its failure to keep the court posted on the developments relating to the case on the suicide by customs official Avijit Sinha following alleged police torture over his links with the Naxalites.

Justice Altamas Kabir resented the government’s handling of the case after he was told today that a one man-committee had been set up to probe the death.

The government’s statement about a probe being underway was conveyed to the court by advocate-general Balai Ray.

“As is the case, it (committee) has been tasked to find out the reasons behind the death,” Ray told the court.

But he could not name the man who had been put in charge by the government to probe the suicide case. The state’s top law officer also failed tell the court any of the committee’s findings.

Kabir said the court was kept in the dark about the formation of the committee. He asked the government to submit details on the probe panel and name its head within two weeks.

A young Central customs officer, Sinha jumped in front of a running train off Dum Dum Cantonment station on July 9. His family and friends said torture by the police when in custody and the humiliation he was subjected to led to the suicide.

The police had said he had only been “detained” for interrogation on his links with the Naxalite outfit, People’s War.

The police action was perceived to be an extension to the arrest of a young university teacher, Kaushik Ganguly, a few days before Sinha was picked up.

Ganguly was accused of masterminding People’s War’s activities in the state. Out on bail, Ganguly is now facing charges of waging war on the state.

Concerned at the popular outrage following Sinha’s death, the government decided to go slow on the cases that involved Ganguly and others arrested for links with the Naxalites.

The government, however, maintains that they were responsible for the spate in violence in vast areas of West Midnapore and parts of suburban Calcutta.

The suicide case started when Sinha’s widow, Manasi, the only daughter of a serving police officer, Moloy Sinha, approached the court for a direction on an inquiry by the CBI into the circumstances leading to the death.

In court today, Ray argued that the police could not be blamed for Sinha’s death as Moloy Sinha had been with his son-in-law all the while.

Avijit Sinha had been picked up by Midnapore police from his Dum Dum residence for interrogation and taken to police enclosure in Salt Lake. From there, he was shifted to West Midnapore.

The argument was contested by Manasi’s counsel — Alok Mitra and Amita Ghosh. They claimed there were many discrepancies in the police statements on the arrest.

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