Despite apprehensions by the West Bengal government, the Union Home Ministry on Thursday took a suo motu decision to hand over investigation into the Burdwan blast case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The ministry’s move was made easier after the state CID added sections under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to the case, a pre-requisite to transfer it to the central agency, on Wednesday. The case was initially registered under various sections of the IPC.
In fact, state government sources said that it was the ministry which virtually pushed the West Bengal government to slap the UAPA provisions despite its reluctance. This enabled the ministry to push for an NIA probe. The ministry decided to transfer the case as per the NIA Act of 2008.
Ever since an alleged terror network was discovered on October 3, when a bomb being assembled accidentally went off at a house in Burdwan district, the state BJP unit and the CPM had been demanding that the case be handed over to NIA for “fair” investigations.
BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said, “We welcome the MHA step. We have been demanding this from day one. Much of the hard evidence has already been destroyed,” said Singh.
The issue had split the West Bengal government, with one section in favour of an NIA probe since it would help the state government get the matter off its hands, while another section — largely egged on by top TMC leadership — in favour of a probe by the state CID. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has maintained silence on the issue so far.
A top BJP leader said on condition of anonymity, “The move will intensify the political wrangling on the ground between the BJP and the TMC in the state.”