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In Bengal’s Birbhum violence case, high court orders CBI probe, seeks report

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Guwahati: In Bengal’s Birbhum violence case, the Calcutta High Court has ordered a CBI probe and has also sought a status report from the central probe agency, which has been asked to take immediate steps amid calls for a speedy investigation.

Eight people were killed in the violence that has brought the Mamata Banerjee government under criticism. On Thursday, the chief minister visited Bogtui village, where the violence was reported late on Monday.

Eight people, including two children, were charred to death in the village just hours after the murder of Trinamool Congress (TMC) panchayat leader Bhadu Sheikh on Monday. All eight people were beaten before they were killed, news agency PTI reported, citing the autopsy report. As she met the families affected, Banerjee criticised the local police for inaction. “I never thought that such a gruesome incident could take place. On one hand war is going on and here violence is going on because of some people. I don’t want any excuses. Arrest all the accused. Build the case in such a manner that no one dares to commit such a crime and it becomes a lesson for others,” she said. 

The CBI has been told to submit its status report by April 7. The probe in the case was being conducted by a special investigation team so far; several arrests have been made. The high court on Friday refused to accept a state government request to stay the order and plea for time to appeal against it.

On Thursday, the state assembly witnessed protests by BJP leaders as they staged a walkout, saying the Speaker refused to grant time for a discussion on the killings. “We wanted the session to be adjourned and demanded a discussion on the deteriorating law and order in the state. It was not allowed. Hence, we staged a protest. This fight will go on. On Friday, too, we would stage a protest,” leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari said.

A day before, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had condemned the violence, seeking strict action against those involved. “I express my condolences over the violence in Birbhum. I hope state government will take strict action against the culprits. Those who commit such crimes and those who encourage such criminals should not be forgiven. The Centre will extend all assistance to the state to bring the culprits to justice,” he had said while addressing a virtual event in Kolkata.

Earlier, the home ministry had sought a report from the state government.

In a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday, Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary had said: “The law and order situation in West Bengal has completely broken down. It is very sad to note that during last month itself, there were 26 political murders in West Bengal. The poll violence and post-poll violence has claimed many lives. The whole state is in the grip of fear and violence.”

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