CPI-M leader remanded in CBI custody for Singur rape-murder


Kolkata : A leader of West Bengal's ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and a party supporter were remanded in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody Friday for alleged rape and murder of an 18-year-old girl at the Tata Motors site in Singur. An embarrassed state government has termed it a "conspiracy".

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The arrest of CPI-M leader Surhid Dutta and party worker Debu Malik has struck a discordant note to the chants of industrialisation by the communists in West Bengal.

Dutta and Malik were remanded in CBI custody by the Chandannagore court of Hooghly district for their alleged role in the killing of Tapasi Malik, who along with her family was in the forefront of the anti-land acquisition movement in Singur.

Her charred body was recovered Dec 18 from a rectangular grave inside the area fenced off for the upcoming Tata Motors plant in Singur, 40 km from here, in Hooghly district.

Trinamool Congress, Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters have demanded capital punishment for the two men.

Dutta, the Singur Zonal Committee secretary of the CPI-M, was arrested Thursday evening by the CBI.

The main accused is Malik, who was in charge of the night guards at the Tata Motors site during the rape and murder. He was arrested in New Delhi and brought to Kolkata Wednesday night by the CBI.

While Dutta would be produced in court again on July 12, Debu Malik was given CBI custody till July 7.

CPI-M patriarch Jyoti Basu refused to comment on the "sub judice" matter. But asked if he would call it a political conspiracy, he said: "Our party men think so."

CPI-M leaders said the CBI was also involved in the conspiracy to tarnish the image of the party.

"This is a conspiracy," said CPI-M peasant leader Binoy Konar.

The arrest has come as a major setback to the Left Front government's industrialisation policy and the means adopted to pursue it.

It has also given the opposition another stick to beat the government with. Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee said: "A young girl was raped, killed and then her body burnt in the Tata Motors site just for protesting land acquisition. Now it is proved."

Some 997 acres in Singur have been chosen by Tata Motors for its small car project. The issue has triggered a violent face-off between the government and farmers led by civil society groups and parties like the Trinamool.