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Silda: court refuses to take cognisance of UAPA charges

Raktima Bose

KOLKATA: Citing the absence of the West Bengal government's sanction for the usage of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) as a reason, a court at Jhargram in Paschim Medinipur district on Monday refused to take cognisance of the Sections of the Act under which 24 persons had been chargesheeted by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for the Silda massacre.

The CID had submitted the charge sheet to the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate on Saturday, wherein it had accused 24 suspected Maoists, including Maoist Polit Bureau member Kishanji, for killing 24 Eastern Frontier Rifles jawans at the Silda camp on February 15, and looting sophisticated weaponry, and slapped charges under the UAPA against them.

The Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate reportedly said that “sanction of a competent authority of the State government is required before covering anyone under the Sections of the UAPA.”

The other charges pressed against the accused, including those under the Arms Act and Explosive Substances Act, however, had been taken cognisance of by the court and arrest warrants issued against 17 absconding accused.

Saying that a sanction has been sought from the State government to the effect, CID Additional Director-General Raj Kanojia told The Hindu that the “Police Department is expecting to receive the sanction by Tuesday or Wednesday.”

“It is just a formality. Before the case reaches a committal stage, the sanction should be given. We are hopeful to receive it shortly,” Mr. Kanojia said.

The charge sheet says that 70 witnesses had been examined by the investigating officer. Seven of the accused had been arrested.

Bandh hits life

In another development, life was affected on Monday, the first day of the 48-hour-bandh called by the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee, in the forest fringe areas in the three Left-wing extremism affected districts during the day.

The bandh was called in protest against the alleged abduction and killing of three students from Banshbandh in Bankura district last Thursday by Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadre.

Director-General of Police Bhupinder Singh said some suspected Maoists were arrested from Jorabridge near Jhargram when the latter were caught planting landmines on a road.

“The rebels fired at the forces when challenged and the forces retaliated. It is suspected that a senior Maoist leader, possibly Bikash, was in the group and also suffered bullet injury. He, however, managed to escape,” Mr. Singh said. Though the bandh had no impact on urban areas, vehicles stayed off the road and shops, schools and offices remained closed.

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