West Bengal: Birbhum Killings Prime Accused Dies In CBI Custody

At least 10 people were killed in suspected arson in Bogtui in West Bengal's Birbhum on March 21.

CBI team in Birbhum

The prime accused in Birbhum killings in West Bengal, Lalan Sheikh, was found dead on Monday in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody.

Lalan is suspected to have died by suicide. PTI cited a source to report that Lalan was found hanging in CBI's Rampurhat camp office in Birbhum.

"The body of the prime accused in the Bogtui violence was found hanging in the washroom of the guest house, where we have set up our temporary camp, at around 4:30 pm. We have informed the police and all necessary procedures are being followed," the CBI source told PTI, adding that the CBI has informed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and judiciary in accordance with the laid down procedure. 

On March 21, at least 10 people were killed in Bogtui village in West Bengal's Birbhum district in suspected arson. Lalan was the prime accused in the case. He was arrested on December 4 from a hideout along the Bengal-Jharkhand border.

The suspected arson in Bogtui followed the murder of local Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Bhadu Sheikh on March 21. The CBI is probing the case on the orders of the Calcutta High Court.

In its charge sheets filed in the cases linked to the Bogtui violence and arson, the CBI has alleged that it was a "direct fallout" of Sheikh's killing. It has been alleged that after Sheikh was killed, his loyalists and group members, armed with sharp weapons, crude bombs, and country-made firearms, went on a rampage burning the houses of rivals in the village.

The CBI has alleged the rivalry between groups of the deceased, Palash Sheikh and Sona Sheikh, for dominance in the area and control over the income from illegal collection of money from commercial vehicles and other unlawful activities had existed for a long time. 

(With PTI inputs)