Calcutta HC says no coercive action against CBI officers in custodial death of Bogtui case accused

A view of the Calcutta High Court in Kolkata. File

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed West Bengal Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) not to take any coercive action against officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the custodial death of an accused in the Bogtui massacre.

On December 12, Lalan Sheikh, an accused in the Bogtui violence which claimed 10 lives in March, was found dead in CBI custody in the State’s Birbhum district. The CID had subsequently registered an FIR against seven officers of the CBI.

The CBI had approached the Calcutta High Court seeking a stay on the CID investigation in the matter.

While the Court directed that the CID shall continue to investigate the matter until further orders, it directed that all acts of investigation be videographed .

Justice Jay Sengupta said that the final report should not be filed in the case without leave of the court. The matter will come up for hearing next on December 21.

During the hearing, the lawyers representing the CBI said that two officers of the agency who are investigating a cattle smuggling case and are not related to the probe into the Bogtui massacre, have been named in the FIR.

The death of an accused in CBI custody has turned into a political issue, with leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress targeting the agency. The development also comes at a time when central agencies are probing a number of high-profile cases which has led to the arrest of a number of key Trinamool functionaries including former Ministers.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also raised the issue and asked, “If the CBI is so smart, why is he dead? And it was in custody, so they (State agencies) have to take the details”.

The CBI is investigating the violence at Bogtui village in Birbhum on March 21 under the instructions of Calcutta High Court. The agency had filed chargesheet against 16 persons in June this year and had arrested Lalan Sheikh on December 4.

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