TMC’s Anarul Hossain named prime accused in Bogtui massacre, remanded to police custody | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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TMC’s Anarul Hossain named prime accused in Bogtui massacre, remanded to police custody

Mar 25, 2022 09:41 PM IST

Seven charred bodies were recovered from the home of a villager, Fatik Sheikh, on the morning of March 23. Three critically injured persons were found inside the home of another villager, Sanju Sheikh. One of them died in hospital.

Anarul Hossain, the arrested Rampurhat-1 community block unit president of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in Birbhum district is the main conspirator of the massacre that claimed eight lives at Bogtui village on March 21, the local police told a Birbhum district court on Friday, hours after the Calcutta high court ordered a CBI probe into the killings.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on her way to visit those affected after violence broke out at Bogtui village on Tuesday morning in Birbhum district, on Thursday. (PTI PHOTO.)
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on her way to visit those affected after violence broke out at Bogtui village on Tuesday morning in Birbhum district, on Thursday. (PTI PHOTO.)

When produced before the Rampurhat sub-divisional court, charges of murder, arson, rioting with deadly weapons, criminal conspiracy etc. were brought against Hossain by the Rampurhat police that arrested the TMC leader hours after the order came from chief minister Mamata Banerjee during her visit to Bogtui village on Thursday.

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Charges against Hossain were filed under Sections 120B, 302, 147, 148, 149, 436, 435 and 427 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), said lawyers who attended the hearing.

The government told the court that Hossain had been named by the 22 people arrested so far in connection with the massacre. Hossain was remanded in police custody for 14 days.

The chain of events that followed Banerjee’s visit to Birbhum indicated that the TMC’s district unit president Anubrata Mondal - who is known to be close to the chief minister and was recently inducted into the party’s national steering committee - found himself in an uncomfortable position. After the massacre, Mondal had put his party in an embarrassing position by making contradictory statements. He even claimed that the houses caught fire because of an electrical short circuit.

Hossain, 61, told the court that he was innocent. His bail prayer, which cited illness and age, was turned down by the court, said Ashok Banerjee, his lawyer.

“I surrendered to the police because Mamata Banerjee asked me to. I am innocent,” Hossain told the media while being taken to court.

During the hearing, his lawyer told the court that had Hossain been guilty he would have left Rampurhat after the massacre was carried out in retaliation to the murder of Bhadu Sheikh, the deputy head of the local TMC-controlled Barshal gram panchayat.

After Bhadu Sheikh was murdered around 8.30 pm on March 21, Hossain claimed to have asked TMC workers to remain calm and not to indulge in any act of reprisal. However, around 10 houses were attacked by relatives and followers of Sheikh around 10.30 pm, eyewitnesses and members of the affected families have alleged. Most of the victims were women and two were children.

Seven charred bodies were recovered from the home of a villager, Fatik Sheikh, on the morning of March 23. Three critically injured persons were found inside the home of another villager, Sanju Sheikh. One of them died in hospital.

An eight-member team of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory collected samples from the site of the crime on Friday under the supervision of the district judge of the adjacent East Burdwan district. This was ordered by the Calcutta high court on Wednesday during hearing on five separate petitions that sought CBI probe.

Since the victims and the attackers owe their allegiance to the TMC, the ruling party has been targeted by the opposition parties.

After the Calcutta high court ordered a CBI probe on Friday, Anubrata Mondal told the media that the police case has to be framed in a certain way.

Reacting to this, TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh sarcastically said: “Anubrata Mondal is a great leader. He seems to understand everything more than others. We do not want to comment on what he says.”

Relatives of the massacre victims also took U-turns after Hossain’s arrest.

Alauddin Sheikh, who earlier visited the local morgue and identified the seven corpses found in Fatik Sheikh’s home, said on Friday that he had identified only one body.

“I could identify only a woman, Mina Bibi. The remaining six bodies were too charred for any kind of identification,” Alauddin Sheikh said before the local media.

Mihilal Sheikh, whose relative Sanju Sheikh’s home was set on fire, earlier demanded a CBI probe and alleged that Bhadu Sheikh was involved in illegal activities.

On Friday, Mihilal Sheikh said, “I have full faith in Mamata Banerjee. She can deliver justice.”

The state government formed a special investigation team (SIT), comprising three senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, on March 22. The officers returned to Kolkata on Friday after the CBI probe was ordered.

On March 22, director general of police Manoj Malviya said: “It was personal enmity between two groups that might have led to the murder of Bhadu Sheikh. It is being investigated whether the incidents that took place later were an act of retaliation. No political rivalry was involved in this.”

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