Birbhum massacre: CBI sleuths plan to question fire officials over toll claim
The CBI team probing the Bogtui massacre wants to question officials of the fire and emergency services department, along with their counterparts in Birbhum police.
The plan is to gather basic information such as how many bodies were recovered by the fire tenders who responded to the first call for help on the night of March 21 and what the team found during its second visit to the spot the day after, officers in the central agency said. The officers said the role of the fire services department was key to the probe since firefighters had visited the village twice, once after receiving the first call at 10.25pm on March 21 and again at 7.10am the next morning.
The CBI FIR states: “On March 21st at about 22.25 hrs, the fire brigade personnel of Rampurhat Fire and Emergency Services arrived at the spot. During fire fighting operations, four (4) persons were recovered with burn injuries. They were immediately shifted to Rampurhat Medical College and Hospital with the help of local people and their relatives. The fire was anyhow brought under control and at about 02.00 hrs. The fire brigade personnel left the spot after the fire was more or less doused. Due to the immense heat, it was not possible to get into those burnt houses at that time…”
CBI officers said one of the firefighters had said he had brought out three bodies on the night of March 21 from one of the houses set on fire and seven more from another house the next day. By that account, a total of 11 persons — taking into account another person who died in hospital later — died in the carnage.
The official death toll is eight, stated by Bengal DIG Manoj Malaviya on March 22.
“Usually, the officer in charge of the fire station involved in the rescue operation lodges an FIR,” said a senior official in the department, refusing comment when asked if such an FIR had been drawn up in Bogtui.