Panel clears 2,000 TMC men of Singur, Nandigram charges
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The State Level Review Committee set up by the Mamata Banerjee government to look into political arrests made in Nandigram and Singur by the previous Left Front government has recommended withdrawal of cases against over 2,200 accused in its recent report. Among the cases that the panel headed by Justice Moloy Sengupta wants dropped are those involving "crime against human body", that is, assault or molestation; "crime over property"; and "crime over land issues".
Most of the 2,200 given the clean chit are Trinamool Congress leaders and supporters.
As part of another parallel process, Law minister Moloy Ghatak has been working with government public prosecutors and additional public prosecutors to fast-track and withdraw criminal cases of more serious nature such as murder and rape against against a large number of TMC leaders and supporters in Singur, Nandigram and other districts.
While the 13-member panel working under Justice Sengupta is public knowledge, not many are aware of Ghatak's efforts towards clearing TMC men of, what the party calls, false charges. The cases in Nandigram and Singur being investigated by the CBI and CID did not come under the purview of the Sengupta committee.
Ghatak confirmed to The Indian Express that he had been able to clear over 100 cases of a serious nature in which partymen and leaders were "falsely implicted" by the previous government. "We have withdrawn politically motivated murder cases also. The special focus of the government is Nandigram and Singur, but cases from other parts of the state have also been withdrawn," he said.
Interestingly, even Justice Sengupta claimed to be unaware of Ghatak's parallel efforts. "I am not aware, neither (was I) told of any process undertaken by the Law Minister dealing with the same subject of release of political prisoners," he said.
Justice Sengupta added that there was no legal difficulty in withdrawal of serious cases like murder, rape, damage to government property and rioting if the government wanted the same. Asked if the committee had any mandate from the government on withdrawing the cases, he said: "The TMC election manifesto had promised to release all political prisoners if it came to power. That was one of the guidelines for the committee."
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