Forensic experts collect samples from the house of Sona Sheikh where seven people were burnt to death keeping captive in their room, allegedly for avenging the killing of TMC leader Bhadu Sheikh, at Rampurhat in Birbhum district, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (PTI)
Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday sought punishment and "no mercy" by the Mamata Banerjee government towards the culprits of the "heinous sin" in Birbhum, West Bengal, hours after the Calcutta high court took suo moto cognisance of the carnage, expressed "shock" over the horror and ordered the state government to file a status report by 2 pm on Thursday.
Inaugurating the Biplobi Bharat Gallery at Victoria Memorial in Kolkata virtually from New Delhi, Mr Modi started his address with the carnage at Bogtui village in Rampurhat. He said: "At the outset, I express my sadness and solidarity with the violent incident in Birbhum. I expect the state government will definitely punish those who committed such a heinous sin on the great land of Bengal. I also urge the people of Bengal not to forgive the culprits of such a crime and those who inspire them ever. On behalf of the Central government, I further assure the state government of providing all kinds of assistance that it needs to punish the accused at the earliest."
At the high court, a series of petitions praying for a NIA probe into the murder of TMC upa pradhan Bhadu Sheikh and a CBI investigation on the massacre came up for hearing by a division bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj in the morning. BJP leader and lawyer Tarunjyoti Tiwari, who is among the petitioners, said: "The bench took suo moto cognisance of the barbarity and expressed shock over it."
During the hearing, the state government, represented by advocate-general S.N. Mookherjee, vehemently opposed the probe by any Central agency with an argument that 20 persons were arrested by the police and the completion of the post-mortem of the victims. The two judges then directed the state government to submit the case diary and other reports within 24 hours.
They also instructed West Bengal DGP Manoj Malviya immediately instal CCTV cameras with adequate storage facilities covering all angles of the scene of the crime in the presence of the district judge of Burdwan East. Mr Malviya, in consultation with the district judge, has also been asked to ensure that the witnesses in the case are "adequately protected and not threatened or influenced by anyone".
The high court further directed the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) to visit the scene of the crime and collect the necessary evidence for forensic examination without any delay. The development came on a day many victims’ family members alleged that the bodies were buried late on Tuesday night while keeping them in the dark.
They also claimed a local Trinamul Congress leader, Anarul Hossain, had introduced himself as the victims’ kin to identify the bodies and help the administration to carry out the burial hurriedly. Mr Hossain, however, denied these charges. The villagers also complained that the police did not come to their rescue during the massacre despite repeated calls. The leaders of the Left parties and the BJP made a beeline for the violence-hit zone on Wednesday to reap political dividends.