KOLKATA: The corridors of power in Alimuddin Street are tense once again; this time over the arrest of CPI(M) strongmen Lakshman Seth, Amiya Sahu and Ashok Guria. Seth, a former MP from Tamluk, and his aides and district committee leaders, Sahu and Guria, were arrested in Mumbai on March 17. Seth along with 88 accused had been named in a chargesheet filed by the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on January 30 in connection with the incidents of violence in Nandigram. On November 10, 2007, six villagers were killed and seven others went missing after armed clashes took place in Nandigram in East Midnapore district.
The state CID exclusively told The Sunday Standard that the trio has been named as the “main conspirators” of the Nandigram violence and interrogating them further could provide important leads in the case. Seth and his associates who are being grilled for more than four to five hours a day have been remanded to CID custody till March 27. Even though the CID claims to have incriminating evidence against the accused, investigators say that they haven’t been able to break Seth completely yet. “Seth is a lawyer and is adept at dodging our questions. Till now all three have been denying their role in violence, saying that they are being framed,” said a CID official.
CID sources confirm that the interrogations are mainly surrounding the role of the CPI(M) top brass as well as the erstwhile Left government. “How could the police picket at Tekkhali Bridge be removed four days before the violence, without the orders of the top brass?” asked the official, suggesting the police’s collusion with the party. The CID is banking on eyewitness accounts to nail the erstwhile musclemen of the CPI(M) who have given written statements saying that armed CPI(M) cadres attacking two Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee (BUPC) rallies and almost 450 BUPC supporters were abducted and subsequently forced to join the CPI(M). They also have telephonic conversations between Seth and some CPI(M) leaders. The CID has been biding its time before it questions senior police officers involved in Operation Surjyadoy. In the chargesheet, the CID termed the police as the “facilitators” for the CPI(M)-led armed attack to gain control of Nandigram. The agency is all set to question Anup Bhasan Vora, the then DGP West Bengal, Raj Kanojia who was the IG (Law and Order) and N R Babu who was DIG Midnapore range.
The CPI(M), however, continues to call such arrests “political conspiracy” of the TMC government. “Law will take its own course and we will provide all the necessary legal support. But this is once again an instance of political conspiracy. This is not democracy; it’s partycracy,” said Surjya Kanta Mishra, Leader of Opposition. The party too faced criticism from within, as its chief whip and known dissenter Abdul Rezzak Mollah questioned how leaders such as Seth could have entered the CPI(M). “I don't know how leaders like Lakshman Seth have entered a Communist party. Leaders like them should have never been inducted in the party,” said Mollah, party's State Committee member.