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Birbhum killings: Calcutta HC orders West Bengal police to hand over case to CBI

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Kolkata, Mar 25: The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the West Bengal Police's Special Investigation Team (SIT) to hand over the Birbhum violence case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The state opposed the prayer for CBI or NIA probe, submitting that an enquiry is being conducted by a Special Investigation Team formed by the West Bengal government and prayed that the SIT be given time to proceed with it.

Birbhum killings: Calcutta HC orders West Bengal police to hand over case to CBI

Eight people, including two children, were charred to death as nearly a dozen huts were set ablaze in Bogtui village early Tuesday in a suspected fallout of the murder of a ruling Trinamool Congress leader and 'upa-pradhan' (deputy chief) of the local panchayat.

Following the conclusion of submissions by all parties over two days, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice R Bharadwaj said it will consider the arguments and pass the order.

Additional Solicitor General Y J Dastur submitted that the CBI or the NIA are ready to initiate a probe if an order is passed by the high court to that effect.

He informed the court that a seven-member team from Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Delhi, will proceed to Bogtui village upon reaching Kolkata on Thursday evening for collection of samples from the crime scene as ordered by the bench earlier.

They will be provided with security by CRPF personnel, Dastur said.

Advocate General S N Mookherjee placed the case diaries of the criminal case lodged in connection with the matter along with a report on the investigation being carried out, as directed by the court.

The advocate general opposed prayers by petitioners for transfer of the case to CBI or NIA and cited several earlier judgements of different courts in support of his argument.

Mookherjee submitted that 31 CCTV cameras have been installed at the place of crime as ordered by the bench on Wednesday.
The petitioners, seeking an enquiry by an agency other than those controlled by the state government, alleged that there is a possibility of tampering with evidence if a probe by CBI or NIA is not ordered immediately.

Appearing for one of the petitioners, advocate Rabishankar Chatterjee said that the high court had ordered a CBI investigation into the Nandigram police firing incident in which 14 people were killed in March 2007 during an anti-land acquisition stir when the Left Front was in power.

Another petitioner submitted that villagers of Bogtui near Rampurhat town were terrified and many of them left for other places for safety.

The AG stated before the court that the authorities have provided protection to witnesses and taken confidence-building measures.

He informed the court that post-mortem examinations on all bodies were videographed, except one.

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