Calcutta, March 28: The high court today ruled out any separate inquiry by the CBI into allegations that police was not taking action against CPM supporters who raided several Nandigram villages on January 7, killing three and injuring many.
Instead, the division bench of Justices P.C. Ghosh and B. Somadder asked the petitioners, all residents of Nandigram, to assist the police in the probe.
The CBI is already conducting a probe into the March 14 police firing in Nandigram that left at least 14 dead.
Rinkurani Mondal, a resident of Gangra, and four others who live in various villages in the Nandigram police station area, moved the petition saying that on the morning of January 7, CPM supporters went there to allegedly grab farmland for setting up industry.
“When the villagers opposed, the CPM supporters attacked them with lathis and other weapons. Sheikh Ismail and two others died and 10 were seriously injured. The attackers also set fire to huts. The next day, Ismail’s widow Fatima lodged a case with the Nandigram police station. But none of the offenders were arrested.
“Around 250 CPM supporters came over from Khejuri, crossing the Talpatti bridge. They wore army fatigues and carried guns and bombs. They attacked villagers when they refused to hand over their land to the government,” the petition added.
The petitioners’ lawyer sought a CBI probe into the charge and requested the court to seize all related documents.
Advocate-general Balai Ray said the police could not begin the probe because of the villagers, who were not allowing them to enter into the area.
In an affidavit filed before the high court recently, the government had said that 34 cases were pending with the Nandigram police station as villagers were preventing the force from performing its duty. “This is one of the 34 pending cases,” Ray said today.
He also said that the agitating villagers were not allowing others to stay at home. “These people, who fled their homes, also lodged complaints with the police.”
The division bench said there was no need for the CBI to probe the charges. “It is the duty of the police to investigate it. The petitioners are directed to help the police in the probe.”
The court also asked the government to file an affidavit spelling out its stand on the allegations levelled by the petitioners and fixed the hearing after three weeks.
The trouble in Nandigram started on January 3 when villagers opposed to land acquisition dug up roads and removed concrete slabs from bridges to prevent the police and administration from entering the interior villages.
Many CPM supporters fled home subsequently and took shelter in party strongholds.