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As cops probe ‘unnatural death’ of suspect in Bogtui TMC leader’s killing, family blames CBI

Lalan Sheikh was found hanging while in CBI custody. He was prime accused in alleged bomb attack that killed West Bengal Trinamool Congress leader Bhadu Sheikh earlier this year.

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Kolkata: Hours after Lalan Sheikh, prime accused in the alleged bomb attack that killed West Bengal Trinamool Congress leader Bhadu Sheikh earlier this year, was found dead in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody, West Bengal Police registered a case of unnatural death in the incident.

Sheikh had been on the run for over six months and was finally arrested earlier this month. He was found dead at the CBI’s temporary camp office in Rampurhat, Birbhum.

“At 4.45 pm (Monday) I received a call from the office of CBI DIG (deputy inspector general) saying that Lalan Sheikh had committed suicide by hanging in the bathroom. According to Supreme Court and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) guidelines, we have begun an investigation into the custodial death. Cause of death can be ascertained after the post-mortem procedure is completed,” said Nagendra Nath Tripathi, superintendent of police, Birbhum, told ThePrint.

No official statement has come from the CBI yet.

According to sources in the CBI, both investigating officers were at the Rampurhat sub-divisional court at the time of the incident and only a police constable and CISF personnel were present at the camp office.

While Sheikh’s family has filed a murder case against the CBI, the Trinamool Congress has sharpened its attack on the BJP for allegedly “misusing” the central agency, following the incident.

“The CBI has killed my husband. They came to our house on Monday afternoon, gheraoed the house and kept asking for a hard disk. They have killed my husband and we want the CBI to be punished,” said Sheikh’s wife, Reshma, breaking down outside the Rampurhat Medical College, where his post-mortem was being conducted.

The Trinamool Congress and the BJP have, meanwhile, both asked for an investigation into Sheikh’s death.

Also read: ‘BJP destroying federal structure’ — TMC slams Centre-state issue exclusion from home panel talks

Who’ll ‘benefit’ from Sheikh’s death?

Both Bogtui villagers and ongoing investigations into Bhadu Sheikh’s alleged murder indicate that Sheikh, also a resident of Bogtui, was a close associate of Bhadu before his death in March this year.

A man who wielded considerable power in Bogtui, Bhadu Sheikh was allegedly murdered using crude bombs on the night of 21 March, near his home in the village. He had been the deputy chief of the Barshal gram panchayat, under the Trinamool.

His death had led to widespread violence in Bogtui, where 11 people were reportedly burnt to death, in what the CBI termed a “retaliatory attack” in its report in April.

In March, a bench of the Calcutta High Court had handed over investigations into both Bhadu’s alleged murder and the ensuing Bogtui violence to the CBI

The central agency, while investigating Sheikh’s alleged murder had claimed to have identified the accused with the help of CCTV footage, and named Sheikh as the prime accused.

But Sheikh had absconded and was only arrested by the CBI on 4 December. He was remanded to six days CBI custody by the Rampurhat su-divisional court and was taken to the camp office for interrogation.

As the news of Lalan’s death broke, his family blocked the national highway in protest.

“Leader of opposition (in West Bengal assembly, Suvendu Adhikari) has been speaking about 12 December (that something big will happen). Is this the bomb he was mentioning? This incident must be thoroughly investigated. We have faith in the CBI, but when it is being misused by the BJP, questions will be raised,” said TMC spokesperson, Kunal Ghosh, hitting out at the BJP.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Rahul Sinha also demanded a probe into Sheikh’s death.

“Investigation into this incident should be done to find out if this was a suicide case or conspiracy. It’s only TMC who will benefit from the death of the prime accused, as the party leaders are all linked to the Bogtui violence. Let’s see what happens next,” Sinha alleged.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: ‘Cooked-up case’ — TMC slams spokesperson Saket Gokhale’s arrest by Gujarat cops for ‘Modi tweet’


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