In an embarrassing development for the CPI(M), the CBI on Monday submitted a 30-page charge sheet on West Midnapore district’s January carnage, for which prominent leaders of the party have been blamed.
Of the 20 names mentioned in the chargesheet before a Jhargram court, the CBI had declared eight, including top leader Anuj Pandey, absconding. To date, 12 CPI(M) activists have been arrested. All of them have been charged with either murder or conspiring to murder.
“We submitted the chargesheet within 40 days of taking over the investigation. But the investigation is not complete. We hope we will be able to arrest the absconders and then file the supplementary charge sheet,” said Partha Tapaswi, the CBI lawyer.
On January 7, nine people died in Netai village in the Lalgarh area, about 160 km west of Kolkata, when a CPI(M)-backed gang fired at a crowd from within a building.
The Criminal Investigation Department first investigated the case, after which the Calcutta high court ordered the CBI to take over the investigation.
“So far, we have decided to move a bail petition for all our accused leaders in the Netai case. Our next course of action will be decided in accordance with the hearing at the Calcutta high court on Tuesday (separately, on a public interest petition). But it may backfire if we politically counter the charge sheet before the public (because) we welcomed the chargesheet of the same CBI in the Gyaneswari Express mishap. We do not know how to overcome the crisis,” said a senior member in the CPI (M)’s district secretariat of West Midnapore, on conditions of anonymity.
Pranab Basu, president of the Trinamool's West Midnapore unit, said, “Now we want the people responsible for the Netai killings to be punished.”
9 villagers were killed when people from inside a CPI(M) camp in Netai, West Midnapore district, near the Maoist stronghold of Lalgarh, fired upon villagers on Jan 7, 2011.
The firing took place when inhabitants of Netai village encircled the house of a CPI(M) leader who had allegedly given shelter to gun-wielding thugs, and wanted the camp to be demolished.
The Calcutta HC shifted the probe to CBI after the CID failed to satisfy the court that it was probing the case fairly.