From one dispensation to another, from Nandigram in East Midnapore to Bhangar in South 24-Parganas, the CID has come under a cloud yet again over its handling of an enquiry in the aftermath of agrarian agitprop, which tragically turned out to be fatal. Just as the Bengal Left had desperately tried to airbrush reality, so too is the present dispensation anxious to conceal rather than expose the circumstances that led to the shooting of a 23-year-old man at Bhangar on 17 January this year. Central to the mayhem was the spirited protest by villagers against the setting up of a power sub-station after forcible acquisition of land.
As much as the CPI-M, the Trinamul administration is intent on conducting the CID probe on its terms of reference, indeed to serve its political ends. This is pretty obvious from the subtext of Thursday’s observation of Calcutta High Court (coram: Joymalya Bagchi, J) ~ “The CID’s investigation is opaque. It is difficult to believe that a person was killed in broad daylight in the presence of a huge police force, but the investigators could not trace the culprits yet.” That observation, advanced four months after the killing of Mofizul Mollah, is suggestive both of the sluggishness of the probe and the political considerations at play. Still more crucially, the Bench has binned the state administration’s claim that the young man was killed when “outsiders” ~ and not the police ~ had fired. Verily has the court questioned the perceived efficacy of policing with a sharp query in the presence of the Additional Director-General, CID ~ “How can a person be killed in the presence of the police? It is the question of safety and security of the common people, and the CID should be transparent in its investigation.”
Regretfully, it is the lack of transparency over Bhangar that has rattled the High Court, whose observations reflect poorly on the conduct of the investigators. “The CID is claiming that the man was killed during a clash between two groups of villagers and not in police firing. Then, why cannot the investigators find out the culprits?” There was no convincing answer.
The Advocate-General’s plea that there are some “missing links” is a strained attempt to evade the state’s responsibility. Clearly, the High Court is not satisfied with the “progress report” on the investigation, that was filed on 27 April, recalling the rejection by the trial court at Barasat of a perfunctory report, advanced by the CID, on the Kamduni rape-cum-murder case a couple of years back. The court’s indication that it will have “no option but to hand over the probe to the CBI” is almost a statement of no-confidence in the CID and the state police. Friday’s renewed tension in Bhangar may or may not be wholly coincidental.