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CPM duo guilty in Tapasi murder case

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OUR CORRESPONDENT   |   Chandernagore   |   Published 11.11.08, 12:00 AM

Chandernagore, Nov. 11: CPM leader Suhrid Dutta and party activist Debu Malik were convicted in the Tapasi Malik murder case today.

The Trinamul Congress is viewing the verdict as a weapon to neutralise the fallout of the Tata pullout and has announced a string of protests in the run-up to a clutch of elections.

Bypolls are due in three Assembly seats at the end of the year and four civic elections are scheduled for November 30.

The Chandernagore fast-track court found Suhrid and Debu guilty of murder, criminal conspiracy, tampering with evidence and providing false information to protect an offender. The court will deliver the sentence tomorrow.

On December 18, 2006, the burnt body of 18-year-old Tapasi, a Save Farmland Committee campaigner, was found at the Tata Motors’s Nano plant site in Singur.

Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee today announced rallies in Singur and other parts of the state. “We welcome the verdict. We will observe Tapasi Malik divas in Singur on Saturday to commemorate her death and highlight the CPM’s misdeeds,” she said at her Kalighat home.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee should resign as chief minister, Mamata said. “Buddhababu should quit, accepting moral responsibility for what happened in Singur.”

CPM leaders Benoy Konar and Balai Sabui said Suhrid and Debu were likely to move a higher court.

The judgment has come at a time when the CPM was hoping to reclaim Singur from Trinamul, banking on the backlash against Mamata after the Tata pullout. The CPM lost Singur in the May panchayat elections. Before that, it lost the Assembly seat in 2006.

Santasree Chatterjee, the CPM MP from Serampore, said: “The Opposition will use the verdict to campaign against us. But we will tell the people that Suhrid is the victim of a conspiracy.”

The party has distanced itself from Debu but has stood by Suhrid. “He has been a dedicated leader. He is still a district committee member,” Santasree added.

As soon as news of the judgment reached Bajemelia, where the Maliks stay, villagers flocked to their house. Malina Malik, Tapasi’s mother, is ill, because of which husband Manoranjan couldn’t go to court today. “My daughter’s soul will rest in peace now,” Malina said.

Manoranjan Hambir, a 70-year-old unwilling land loser, said: “We waited two years for this verdict.”

In Calcutta, CBI lawyer Partha Tapaswi said Suhrid and Debu could get the death sentence. “We are satisfied with the judgment,” he added.

Arindam Bhattacharya, Suhrid’s lawyer, said he would take a decision about moving a higher court after hearing the sentence tomorrow. But Debu’s lawyer Kishore Mondal said: “My client will move the high court.”

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