Friday, February 8, 2008

CPM indulges in Dinhata 'eyewash' -- police transfers

Transfer order for Dinhata cops
OUR BUREAU (Kolkata, Telegraph)

Calcutta/Dinhata, Feb. 8: The Bengal government today transferred two police officers from Dinhata, but stood by the law enforcers’ decision to open fire on Forward Bloc supporters in the subdivisional town on Tuesday, killing five.

The decision came after Bengal home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray received the Cooch Behar district magistrate’s report on the police firing today.

“The police in Dinhata feared an all-out attack from the Bloc demonstrators and hence had to open fire in self-defence. That is what I have been told. Moreover, things went out of control after the protesters set two police vehicles on fire,” Ray said.

According to a home department official, the report submitted to Ray also mentions that it was not possible for the 135 policemen on duty at the Dinhata subdivisional office on that day to control the 10,000-odd violent protesters.

One National Volunteers Force guard had died of head injuries inflicted by the mob.

A report sent by the subdivisional officer, Debabrata Chakraborty, to the district magistrate has revealed that on that day, two constables had fired three shots in the air and 19 into the crowd from their .303 rifles.

As for the transfers of the inspector-in-charge of the Dinhata police station, Sudhangshu Roy, and deputy superintendent of police (crime) Meghlal Sarkar, the home secretary said: “After such incidents, police officers are posted elsewhere to avoid ugly incidents with residents.”

A meeting was held at the chief minister’s chamber today to review the Dinhata situation. Ray, the director-general of police, A.B. Vohra, and chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb attended it.

Afterwards, the home secretary said there had been no discussions on whether to order a judicial or a CID probe.

“It is for the chief minister to decide on the nature of the probe. Early next week, I hope to issue orders for an inquiry by an executive magistrate,” Ray said.

In Dinhata, deputy superintendent of police Sarkar said: “I do not mind a transfer to Siliguri, which is my hometown.”

The officer said the firing orders were given by the Dinhata subdivisional officer. “The police did not give any firing orders,” he said.

The inspector-in-charge of the Dinhata police station has been transferred to the district intelligence branch in Cooch Behar.

Bloc district secretary Udayan Guha dubbed the transfers an “eyewash”.

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