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West Bengal: CBI makes first post-poll violence arrests, nets 2 in Nadia

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Kolkata/Nadia: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday arrested two persons in connection with the post-poll violence in West Bengal in which a BJP worker Dharma Mandal was allegedly murdered on May 14, in Nadia’s Chapra.

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These are the first arrests made by the central agency since Calcutta High Court asked it to investigate cases of post-poll violence in Bengal. The CBI has also initiated 10 more FIRs, raising the total number of cases to 21.

Two people, including a woman, identified as Bijoy Ghosh and Ashima Ghosh – both members of Hridaypur gram panchayat – were arrested from Chapra in Nadia district in connection with the alleged murder case, CBI officials have confirmed.

CBI sources said both the accused were present in the village on May 14, the day Mandal died. They will be presented before a special CBI court on Sunday. 

In his complaint, the victim’s brother Ayan claimed that some people were beating up a relative when Mandal intervened. He was attacked with a sharp weapon by one Ujjal Ghosh and he suffered fatal injuries. Ayan alleged that their family were being targeted since the poll results were declared on May 2 because of their association with BJP.

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Chapra MLA Rukbanur Rahman said the name of Bijoy and Asima did not figure in the FIR. “Those originally named have all been arrested. Later, the CBI included more names. We want the accused to be arrested, but people will not allow harassment,” Rahman added. 

On Saturday, the CBI team faced resistance from local residents when they reached Chapra. The team was carrying out searches at 15 locations in connection with the Mandal case. It is alleged that the tyres of the CBI car were punctured.

“One of the CBI officers criticised the Duare Sarkar scheme and people reacted,” the local MLA said. However, BJP’s Nadia north convener Arjun Biswas said the team was attacked when it tried to make arrests.

Meanwhile, the CBI conducted several search operations in at least 15 locations on Saturday and registered 10 more FIRs. The total number of FIRs now stands at 21. A CBI team also faced some resistance in Nadia during its search operations with some TMC workers blocking the vehicle and shouting anti-CBI and anti-BJP slogans.

The Calcutta high court had on August 19 ordered a court-monitored CBI probe into the allegations of murder and crime against women – rape and attempt to rape – that were reported after the assembly polls.

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A team also went to meet the family members of Shobha Rani Mondal, mother of a BJP booth president, also allegedly killed by TMC workers, while trying to defend her son. She died on May 3.

At least four special teams of the central agency, each headed by a joint director, are camping in the state and visiting the affected families to record their statements.

The CBI has been ordered to probe the allegations of murder and crime against women, while the court has set up a Special Investigation Team, comprising three senior IPS officers from the state to probe the other cases of loot and arson.

A seven-member committee set up by the NGRC on the orders of the high court had submitted its final report on July 13 slamming the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government for post-poll violence while recommending a CBI probe.

The NHRC committee in its report had said at least 1,934 police complaints were lodged with the state police between May 2 and June 20. They included 29 complaints related to murder, 12 to rape and sexual assault, and 940 of loot and arson.

The TMC had alleged that the enquiry committee was politically motivated as some of its members had connections with the BJP. The court, however, had rejected such allegations.

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“While five BJP workers were killed, 16 TMC workers were killed in violence says the NHRC report. I have no problem with a CBI probe because the Bengal government has taken action in each and every case. But why would they visit the villages with BJP leaders and workers. They should work impartially,” said Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal.

The BJP, however, countered that the law is taking its own course and that the party has nothing to do with this as it was ordered by the high court.

“The NHRC committee was set up on the orders of the court. The CBI is conducting its probe on the orders of the court. It will be monitored by the court. Where is the BJP in this? We have nothing to do with this,” said Samik Bhattacharya, BJP spokesperson.

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