One of the main accused in Bogtui village of Bengal’s Birbhum district, in which 10 people were killed, allegedly died by suicide in CBI custody today. Lalon Sheikh was arrested from a hideout in Jharkhand’s Pakur, eight months after the massacre in which women and children were burnt alive.
Lalon Sheikh’s body will now be taken for a post-mortem to Rampurhat Medical College and Hospital. Senior police officers from the district reached the CBI office after the incident. Angry family members blocked the road at Bogtui More near Rampurhat town in West Bengal, demanding action against the CBI officials.
The CBI had informed the local police on Monday afternoon that Sheikh has died by suicide while in their custody. After his arrest, Lalon Sheikh was kept in the temporary camp set up by the CBI after the probe was handed over to the agency by the Calcutta High Court.
Birbhum Superintendent of Police Nagendra Tripathi told reporters, “I received information from the CBI DIG’s office that Lalon Sheikh, whose interrogation was going on has died. We have started the proceedure that is followed in such cases. They informed the local police station around 4:40PM and around 5:00PM, I was informed. It is a UD case. UD case means unnatural death and the local police station will start an investigation.”
“The proceedure includes a magisterial inquest and a postmortem. That will be how the cause of death will be determined. It’s too early to say anything. There are NHRC and Supreme Court guidelines on unnatural custodial deaths and we will follow them. The CBI informed us and told us it is a death due to hanging,” Nagendra Tripathi added.
The CBI is probing the case on the orders of the Calcutta High Court. The probe agency arrested Sheikh this month, more than eight months after the incident. He was arrested after months of surveillance set up to catch him, as he had evaded the police since the incident.
Lalon Sheikh is one of the prime accused in the March 21 Bogtui violence. He was arrested by CBI on December 4. Sheikh is believed to have led a crowd that set homes on fire in Bogtui leading to the death of ten people, mostly women and children.
Lalon Sheikh was produced before a Rampurhat court on Sunday and sent to six days CBI custody.
Ten persons were killed in the Birbhum violence after several houses were set on fire after the murder of the deputy chief of a gram panchayat and Trinamool’s Bhadu Sheikh. The CBI has been investigating the Bogtui murders case and the murder of Bhadu Sheikh as well.
The agency has filed a 1192-page charge sheet based on eyewitness accounts, security camera footage and statements by two of the three women who died of burn injuries at Rampurhat Medical College and Hospital. An eight-year-old girl was among those that died in the incident. The CBI charge sheet says Bhadu Sheikh’s murder, whose killing sparked off the violence, was the fallout of rivalry between him and his associates over dubious land deals, illegal businesses and a share of extortion money.