The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Publicity’ craze kills cops
- Blast during replay of bomb disposal for the cameras, police boss says in his report

Calcutta, Sept. 25: The police chief has blamed his juniors’ “callousness” and “craze for cheap publicity” for last week’s Lalgarh blast that killed two bomb squad members and injured media persons who were capturing the deactivation of the explosive “live”.

Director-general of police A.B. Vohra, who rushed to the West Midnapore region a day after the blast, submitted his report to the home secretary today.

Home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said the bomb squad personnel in Lalgarh did not follow procedure while defusing the explosive..

Around 11.30 on Thursday morning — two hours after an explosive device was found in a milk can under an uprooted tree and brought to the Lalgarh police station — the police, apparently led by Utpal Bhakta of the bomb disposal squad, took it back to the forest to replay the incident before reporters and photographers.

The DG’s report does not pin responsibility on anyone in particular as the probe is not over yet in the absence of the accounts of the injured West Midnapore additional superintendent of police Sumit Chaturvedi and deputy superintendent Shyam Singh.

The report says it is necessary to speak to both officers to determine under whose instructions the bomb squad personnel decided to re-enact the recovery of the explosive device before the media contingent.

Besides, there are still no answers to why Bhakta, a trained hand in defusing explosives, decided to open the milk can, packed with explosives, with a hammer and chisel.

It is suspected that after having pulled out an electric wire from the can, the police thought the explosive had been defused.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had said on Day I that the blast was caused by a “human error”.

Ray submitted the police chief’s report to chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb, who briefed chief minister Bud-dhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is in Delhi, over the phone.

“Some details are still being worked out as two senior officers who were injured that day are in hospital and still not in a position to speak,” Ray said.

A senior police officer who was part of the probe team said the bloodshed could have been averted had the bomb disposal squad exercised caution and followed procedures.

“It was an unfortunate decision, probably prompted by Utpal Bhakta’s overconfidence. Bhakta has successfully defused improvised explosive devices in the past but this time he did not realise it was live even after carrying it to the police station.”

Bail for Maoist leader

Calcutta High Court today granted bail to Sushil Roy, the 69-year-old CPI (Maoist) politburo member, who was sentenced to five years’ jail by a Midnapore court in March for waging war against the state.

On March 17, the additional sessions judge of West Midnapore convicted three top Maoist leaders, including Roy. Patit Paban Haldar and Santosh Debnath, who had been sentenced to life, are in prison now.

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