Not satisfied with the CBIs probe into the 2007 Nandigram police firing that left 14 villagers dead during the Left regime,the Mamata Banerjee government on Friday accused the central probe agency in the Calcutta High Court of letting off senior police officers and CPM leaders who were at the helm of affairs then.
In a two-page response submitted to the Division Bench of Justice Ashim Kumar Banerjee and Justice Mrinal Kanti Chaudhary,the state government said the CBI has exempted senior police officers and political representatives,including then Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,of their responsibility in the killings of the villagers who were protesting against land acquisition for setting up of a chemical hub.
Responding to the CBIs Thursday charge that the state government did not clear prosecution of the policemen in the case,government counsel Subrata Talukdar told the court that the probe agency only wanted to prosecute junior police officers and,therefore,it did not give the necessary sanction for it.
Last December,the CBI,which had taken over the probe on the direction of the High Court,had sought the state governments nod to prosecute five policemen and a doctor.
The CBI had named then officer-in-charge (OC) of Nandigram police station Sekhar Roy,then OC of Khejuri police station Amit Hati,then Additional SP of Howrah Satyajit Banerjee,then additional SP of Tamluk Debasish Boral and then S-I of Khejuri police station Sambhu Das. The agency had also wanted the governments sanction to prosecute then vice-principal of NRS Medical college and Hospital,Dr Lakhi Kanta Ghosh,in the case.
The government told the court that the agency did not probe the conspiracy angle involving senior police officers and CPM leaders,including peoples representatives indicating the role of the then Tamluk MP,Lakshman Seth.
The government said that police officers involved in the operation used SIM cards bought under false names and addresses,and used them to communicate with political leaders. But the CBI neither investigated the police officers relations with political leaders nor the role of former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee,the government told the High Court.
A state government official,meanwhile,told The Indian Express that the police action at Nandigram was led by then IG of Western Zone Arun Gupta,who was helped by then DIG of Midnapore Range N Ramesh Babu and then SP of East Midnapore Anil Srinivas. But the CBI probe is silent on them,the official added. The the CBI exempted them from the charges and held junior police officers responsible. They were merely carrying out instructions, the official added.
Significantly,the incumbent government has earlier this year issued showcause notices to these IPS officers asking them to explain their role in the firing.
The Division Bench,meanwhile,told the CBI to respond to the state governments allegations by July 25 when it will hear the case next.
On Wednesday,while replying to a petition filed by a Nandigram resident seeking information on the status of the CBI probe in the case,the agency informed the court that it was awaiting the governments nod to prosecute the policemen. The court then asked the state government to furnish the reason for the delay in the sanction.