The strongest case against Tapas Das — better known as Bulton to friends and foes — has blown up on the face of law enforcers with the court acquitting the main accused in a twin murder case for “lack of evidence”.
On Monday, the fast-track court at Barasat released Bulton, 43, portrayed by police as a dreaded gangster and mastermind of the twin killings in their chargesheet.
The nine accomplices of Bulton — known for his proximity to some CPM leaders — were also given a clean chit.
“The investigation has failed to prove the guilt of the accused,” observed magistrate Baidyanath Bhaduri.
“No conclusive evidence has been produced, which could have established that the accused were present at the spot where the killings took place,” he added.
In July 2004, residents of Banipur in Habra found the bodies of Sunil Haoladar and Shankar Biswas, both bearing bullet marks.
The police initially said the duo had been killed in a shootout between two gangs. Investigating officials of Habra police station arrested 14 persons, including Bulton and his nine associates, on July 19.
Four months into the trial, the investigators changed tracks and said the killings were deliberate and the plot had been hatched at least a month before the incident.
But with the magistrate clearing Bulton of the charges on Monday, he came out smiling from the courtroom as his supporters celebrated his release in raucous style.
From planning extortion to plotting murders to settling political scores, Bulton has been named in a host of cases in the past few years.
“But the twin murder case was the strongest against him…. He has already been acquitted in the robbery of Rs 7 lakh from a milk co-operative and granted bail in the other cases, which are minor,” said a district police officer.
The Bulton judgment on Monday is the second major setback to the law-enforcing agencies in recent times. In March, the Alipore court had allowed the prime accused in the Oxytown murder case, in which a family of four was wiped out, to walk free.
According to a criminal lawyer, watching Bulton’s trial closely, the case had not been handled properly.
During the course of the trial, 25 out of the 37 witnesses turned hostile and went back on their deposition against Bulton.
The case also saw a sudden replacement of the public prosecutor last year and Naba Kumar Ghosh — handling the Khadim’s abduction case — took over from Prithwis Ganguly. “The changeover took place after 90 per cent of the case was already heard…. This in itself is quite strange,” said a law officer of the Barasat court.
The observation of the magistrate about witnesses also made it clear that the case preparation was weak and full of loopholes.
“The police brought in witnesses from distant places to frame my client…. During cross-examination, it emerged that the police had tried to plant false witnesses,” said Bulton’s counsel Chandan Roy.