The Bharatiya Jananta Party (BJP) has asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe into the October 2 blast at a house in Khagragarh in Burdwan district of West Bengal. In this blast two terrorists Shakeel Ahmad and Sowan Mandal died. According to Home Ministry officials the Centre would have to carefully weigh the political outcome on the move as well as its implications, while exploring the option. After the incident, West Bengal police officials have arrested wives of both the terrorists with four other people.
Shakeel Ahmad has been identified as the resident of Dhakha in Bangladesh was a leader of Bangladesh’s fundamentalist organisation named, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and has got links with Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Sowan Mandal was a resident of East Medininagar in Jharkhand.
Though Section 6(5) of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, empowers that Centre to suo motu direct the agency to investigate a scheduled offence committed anywhere in India, this provision has not been invoked so far. “This section providing for a suo motu takeover of a case by the NIA is meant to be an exception rather than rule… given the potential of it being viewed as an encroachment upon the states exclusive ‘law & order’ domain, the Centre has always taken care that that the state concerned is on board before it orders an NIA probe,” a home ministry official pointed out.
The house was given on rent to Shakeel Ahmad for cloth business. Police has recovered 55 grenades and dials of 40 detonator watches, map of the district and sim cards. Chemicals, battery, wires and books for making explosives were also recovered. Superintendent of Police, Burdwan district, SMH Mirza said that, “The two died in blasts have links with the terrorist groups. At the time of the blast, 3 men with 2 women and children were present at the spot. We recovered a huge amount of explosive material from the spot.”
Conceding that the Mamata Banerjee government is certain to resist entrusting of the Burdwan blast investigation to a Central agency, given that the state BJP is already linking the explosions to Trinamool Congress, a home ministry official said going for a suo motu NIA probe would have to be a political call.
Trinamool Congress (TMC), it may be recalled, has been at the forefront of resisting any move or proposed legislation with the slightest implications on federal relations. Mamata Banerjee had earlier opposed the Centre's move to set up the National Counter-Terror Centre (NCTC), describing it as an infringement upon the jurisdiction of states and against the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution.
The apprehension is that a suo motu takeover of the Burdwan blast probe by NIA would not only invoke the ire of Mamata Banerjee but also get CMs of other states ruled by regional parties to rally behind her on the emotive issue of federalism. Also, even if the NIA were to be handed over the probe, it will stand the risk of having to deal with uncooperative State police machinery.It was alleged that TMC had links with the blast but party General Secretary, Mukul Roy said that the investigation was following normal procedure. He lauded the police administration for a “proper and fast” investigation.
West Bengal Left Front committee chairperson Biman Basu quoted newspaper reports to prove that the pamphlets of “banned Muslim fundamentalist organisation” were recovered from the house. Later, the CPI (M) said in a statement that the Trinamool office was located in the house. “Soon after the explosion, the signboard of the Trinamool Congress was removed … local people alleged that that the police tried to block the probe initially,” Bose said. —Basudeb Pal from Siliguri