CID initiates murder case related to Nandigram violence against BJP's Lakshman Seth
With the Central Bureau of Investigation becoming pro-active against All India Trinamool Congress leaders in the Saradha and Narada scams, the West Bengal CID is turning the heat on BJP leaders.
On Thursday, CID initiated a fresh murder case related to the violence in Nandigram in 2007 and 2008. An FIR has been lodged against CPI(M)-turned-BJP leader Lakshman Seth and 15 others. Seth joined the BJP in 2016.
In a statement, the West Bengal CID said, “We have taken up the investigation of the Nandigram police station case number 71/18 registered on March 2, 2018 over the abduction and murder of Durgapada Maity and Subrata Samanta in 2007. An FIR has been lodged against 15 people along with Lakshman Seth".
Sources in state CID said that family members of two victims approached a local court seeking re-investigation in the missing cases. The court has directed the state CID to register murder cases.
In 2007, the then Left Front government decided to allow Salim Group to set up a chemical hub at Nandigram under the special economic zone policy. This led to resistance by villagers resulting in clashes with the police that left 14 villagers dead. It is said that alleged CPI(M) goons led by Lakshman Seth also targetted the protestors.
Cases involving the murder and abduction of people in Nandigram as well as the cases pertaining to police firing were handed over to the CBI after the first bout of violence in 2007.
CBI filed multiple charge-sheets and arrested a few CPI(M) workers. The CBI has approached the West Bengal government on December 2012, seeking the state’s approval to prosecute five police officers, one doctor and six accused for the police firing that killed 14 people in Nandigram.
The state government refused to grant permission to prosecute the accused and the family members of the victim moved to Calcutta High Court challenging the CBI probe. After a while the West Bengal government asked CBI to hand over the documents pertaining to the investigation and asked state CID to look into the matter. The state government also asked CBI why it failed to prosecute top police officers and sought permission to prosecute only middle level police officers. The CBI is yet to respond to the West Bengal government's queries.
But this is not the only case involving BJP leaders that the CID is looking into.
Last week West Bengal DGP Virendra presided over a meeting at Bhawani Bhawan, the state CID headquarters, which was attended by top CID officials. He is said to have taken stock of the progress in various cases against BJP leaders.
BJP MP Roopa Ganguly is facing an investigation in a child-trafficking case in Jalpaiguri, BJP leader Shamik Bhattacharya was summoned by state CID on 25 July, 2017 in connection with a fraud case. A complaint against Bhattacharya was lodged in Basirhat police station by some locals who alleged that money was taken from villagers in the name of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY), assuring them of houses.
On 6 August, 2017 the state CID summoned BJP leader Lakshman Seth at Bhawani Bhawan over a fraud case to the tune of several crores. Seth has been booked under sections 420 (fraud), 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. It was alleged that his non-profit organisation Indian Centre for Advancement of Research and Education (ICARE) which runs and maintains educational institutions has bungled crores of rupees. During 2010-11 Seth was the chairman of I-CARE.
Explaining his party's stand, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said “We do not support corruption. If any BJP leaders are involved in corruption, he /she should be punished. But Trinamool Congress is playing politics over these cases. Why did the state CID reopen the murder case 10 years after the Nandigram violence? We are not frightened by any agency investigation.”
On 20 June, CBI special director Rakesh Asthana came to Kolkata and expressed displeasure over the way the Narada investigation has been carried out in Bengal. He also pulled up the investigating officer Ranjit Kumar for not forwarding all the essential reports to the CBI headquarters in Delhi. Soon after Asthana's visit, a DIG rank officer Abhay Singh was transferred to Ranchi. Singh was supervising the Narada and Saradha cases in Bengal.
Sources in the CBI said that Asthana had urged investigating officers to complete the investigation into the Narada Rose Valley and Saradha ponzi scam this year and instructed them to file the final chargesheet as early as possible. He also assured that more officers from Delhi CBI will be deputed to complete the investigation process.
State parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee said “ The state CID is doing its job. There is no politics involved in the investigation that is being carried out by the CID.”