States & UTs

    Sandeshkhali attack case: CBI takes over probe in two more cases, three FIRs filed in total

    The Hawk
    March6/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    The Calcutta High Court orders the CBI to take over investigations of the mob attack on ED officials in West Bengal's Sandeshkhali, escalating the conflict between state and central agencies amidst allegations and counter-allegations.

    Security personnel at Bhavani Bhawan, West Bengal

    New Delhi: The CBI has registered two more FIRs related to incidents on January 5, when officials of Enforcement Directorate were attacked by a mob in West Bengal's Sandeshkhali where they had gone to conduct raids, officials said on Wednesday.

    On the orders of Calcutta High Court, the CBI has now taken over investigation in three cases — the alleged attack on ED officers by a mob on the complaint by its officers, allegations against ED officials levelled by the guard of suspended TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh, and a suo motu case registered by Nazat police station about the attack on ED officers.

    The high court had directed the state police to handover the cases to the CBI and also hand over the custody of Sheikh by 4.30 pm on Tuesday. The CBI went ahead and registered the three FIRs on the basis of high court's order but the state police did not give custody of Sheikh, claiming the matter was sub judice.

    Sheikh was arrested by the West Bengal Police on February 29 in connection with the attack on ED officials, following which the state government handed over the case to the CID.

    A CBI team on Tuesday reached the CID office in Kolkata with paramilitary forces to take custody of Sheikh but he was not handed over to the agency by the West Bengal police.

    "We have not handed him over as the state government has moved the Supreme Court (against the HC order)," an official had said in Kolkata on Tuesday.

    After the attack by a mob of around 1,000 people in which three ED officials were injured, a deputy director of the agency had given a complaint to the superintendent of police, Basirhat against Sheikh and several unknown persons on January 5 evening but the police did not include IPC Section 307 (attempt to murder) in the FIR even though it was part of the complaint.

    The stringent Section 370 IPC was added only on January 17, they said.

    A team of ED officials had gone to raid the house of Sheikh, who allegedly has close links with arrested former state food minister Jyoti Priya Mallick, in connection with the multi-crore ration distribution scam in West Bengal.

    "It was contended (by ED) that all the sections mentioned in the FIR except Section 353 are bailable offences and, therefore, would contend that the respondent and state police are biased in conducting the investigation of the crime which was committed against the officials of ED who were seriously injured and official equipment were robbed while they were on duty conducting the search as per the provisions of the PMLA Act," the high court had noted while handing over the probe to the CBI.

    "There can be no better case than the case on hand which requires to be transferred to be investigated by CBI," a high court division bench headed by Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam ruled on Tuesday.

    Within hours of the HC acceding to the ED's request, the West Bengal government moved the Supreme Court, challenging the order but an apex court bench refused an urgent listing of the plea and asked its counsel to mention the matter before the registrar general.