Midnapore skeleton case: Ex-minister sent to police custody

Kolkata, Aug 11: Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader and former West Bengal minister Sushanta Ghosh was sent to police custody Thursday over the recovery of a skeleton from near his residence in West Midnapore district.

Ghosh, minister in the Left Front government for over two decades and now a lawmaker from Garbeta assembly seat, has been given to the custody of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for seven days after his anticipatory bail was cancelled by the chief judicial magistrate’s court of West Midnapore.

‘The court today (Thursday) cancelled Ghosh’s anticipatory bail. It said there was sufficient material against him and granted a seven-day CID custody,’ said public prosecutor Ardhendu Saha.

In June, seven skeletons were recovered near Ghosh’s house in West Midnapore district and led to the arrest of two of his aides. Ghosh himself took anticipatory bail after a villager, Shyamal Acharya, filed a police complaint that one of the skeletons was of his father Ajay Acharya.

It was alleged that on Sep 22, 2002, Ajay and some other members of the Trinamool Congress were attacked by 40 armed people allegedly belonging to the CPI-M.

Ghosh was one of the 40 people named in the First Information Report (FIR) filed after the incident nine years back.

Seven of the Trinamool Congress members were later brutally killed, the FIR said.

The victims, including Ajay Acharya, were untraceable since then. On June 4 this year the skeletons were recovered from near a pond in Mallickdanga area.

Two days later, Shyamal Acharya claimed he could identify one of the skeletons as that of his father on the basis of the dress and teeth.

A case was started against the 40 people, including Ghosh, on June 6 on the basis of the FIR.

Following Acharya’s claim, Ghosh moved Calcutta High Court for anticipatory bail which was granted by the court July 18.

The skeletons were later sent by police for DNA testing to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL). The tests confirmed that two of the skeletons dug out by villagers in Keshpur this June were those of Ajay Acharya and Swapan Raju Singh, who were missing since Sep 22, 2002.

After the DNA reports, the CID August 9 sought permission from a Midnapore court to arrest Ghosh.

‘We had prayed for the cancellation of his bail. There was enough material to suggest his (Ghosh’s) direct involvement in the case and asked for 14-day police custody. The court after due consideration cancelled his bail and directed he be taken into custody for seven days by the CID. He would be later taken to CID headquarters in Kolkata,’ said public prosecutor Rajdeep Majumdar, appearing for the CID.

Trinamool Congress supporters and villagers threw stones and mud at Ghosh’s car when he came to the court for Thursday’s hearing. Police had to resort to baton charge to disperse the crowd which kept shouting slogans against Ghosh and his party.

Hailing the court order, Trinamool Congress leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said: ‘His arrest proves our claims that the CPI-M always indulged in the politics of violence and vendetta.’

Ghosh, however, claimed that he was innocent and was falsely implicated in the case.

The CPI-M said it would extend all help to Ghosh in his legal battle.

Speaking to mediapersons after a state secretariat meeting Thursday evening, party’s central committee member Mohammad Salim said: ‘Law will take its own course and justice will prevail. We will extend all help to him in his legal battle.’

IANS