The Calcutta high court on Friday directed the central agency CBI to take over the investigation of the Netai massacre from the West Bengal government’s CID as the judges were not satisfied with the probe of the latter.
At a place near Lalgarh, 160 km west of Kolkata, on January 7, armed CPI(M) men killed nine villagers and injured several others. The court order is a setback to the ruling Left Front, which faces elections this year.
Chief justice JN Patel and justice Ashim Kumar Roy directed the criminal investigation department (CID) to hand over the case papers and the accused persons in their custody to the CBI within three days.
The verdict was welcomed by notable personalities, including governor MK Narayanan and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
“Now that the CBI will handle the case, one can expect a fair investigation,” Narayanan said.
Banerjee said: “We welcome the judgment. The CID was suppressing evidence.”
Scrutinising the CID case diary, the judges said the agency had not identified and arrested many workers and leaders instrumental in setting up armed camps and killing villagers. The bench observed the CID was functioning under the pressure of the ruling parties.
The judges said though the CID arrested two CPI(M) leaders Ashwini Chalak and Abani Singh and obtained their custody for 10 days, the interrogators did not gather any information from them during the past four days. “Therefore, it was necessary to transfer the case to the CBI forthwith to enable the agency to interrogate the accused,” the judges said.