Bengal police files FIR against NIA officials; agency says attack on its team unprovoked

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) also strongly refuted the allegation of any 'mala fide intention' after the ruling TMC in West Bengal accused the agency of acting at the behest of the BJP.
Last Updated : 07 April 2024, 13:40 IST
Last Updated : 07 April 2024, 13:40 IST

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Kolkata/New Delhi: West Bengal police has registered an FIR against NIA officials for alleged molestation in the Bhupatinagar incident after the wife of an arrested TMC leader filed a complaint against them, while the agency on Sunday asserted that the attack on it team during the raid was 'completely unprovoked'.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) also strongly refuted the allegation of any 'mala fide intention' after the ruling TMC in West Bengal accused the agency of acting at the behest of the BJP.

The developments came as the political slugfest over the Saturday incident in Purba Medinipur district intensified with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address at a rally in Jalpaiguri, alleging that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) was 'orchestrating attacks on central investigative agencies' in the state to shield its extortionist and corrupt leaders.

However, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee charged that the central agencies were being used to harass her party leaders and party national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee alleged that there was an 'unholy alliance' between the NIA and the BJP and the Election Commission is 'conspicuously silent' on the issue.

An NIA officer was injured and a vehicle was damaged on Saturday when a mob allegedly attacked the agency team that went to arrest TMC's Manobrata Jana and Bailicharan Maity in connection with the 2022 Bhupatinagar blast in which three persons were killed.

Jana's wife Moni Jana lodged a complaint with Bhupatinagar police station alleging that NIA officers tried to outrage her modesty after forcibly entering her residence on the pretext of conducting a probe. They also allegedly vandalised her residence during their raid, a police officer said on Sunday.

'We have registered an FIR after receiving a complaint from a woman alleging assault by NIA officers. We are looking into the complaint,' the police officer told PTI.

IPC Section 354 (for assaulting any woman, with an intention to outrage her modesty) was attached to the complaint, the police officer added.

The police are yet to arrest anyone in connection with the alleged attack on the NIA officers who have lodged a complaint with the Bhupatinagar police station.

"The matter is being investigated," the police officer said.

An NIA spokesperson said the entire controversy was 'unfortunate' and made it clear that the attack on its team was 'completely unprovoked'.

The agency made it clear on Sunday that its actions were bona fide, lawful and legally mandated, as part of its ongoing investigation into the heinous crime related to fabrication of crude bombs, leading to an explosion that killed three persons.

"The NIA categorically refuted allegations of mala fide in its Bhupatinagar blast case," agency spokesperson said.

On January 5, a team of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was also attacked by a mob in North 24 Parganas district's Sandeshkhali during a search at the house of TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh in connection with alleged irregularities in the public distribution system.

On Saturday, Banerjee had blamed the NIA personnel for the incident.

"They are carrying out raids without prior information and barging into houses. What would the women do if someone entered their house when everyone was asleep in the dead of night," she said on Sunday at an election rally in Purulia district.

She alleged the central investigating agencies were asking TMC leaders to either join the BJP or face action.

Addressing a press conference, senior party leader Kunal Ghosh alleged that a senior state BJP leader from Paschim Bardhaman district, who had earlier been with TMC, had met an NIA SP at his apartment in New Town area of the city on March 26 evening and handed over a list of TMC leaders to be arrested by NIA ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP dismissed the claim, saying the TMC is 'concocting lies and fictitious narratives as the ground slipping under its feet due to the mounting corruption and involvement in cases of terror and atrocities against women and poor villagers'.

The NIA reiterated that its team had come under violent attack by an unruly mob when they had gone to conduct searches in Naruabila village on Saturday in connection with its probe into the case.

"The attack was completely unprovoked and uncalled for and an attempt to obstruct the NIA from carrying out its lawful duties," the agency said.

It pointed out that the searches were conducted at five locations in the presence of independent witnesses and under the security cover provided by the CRPF, which included women constables.

The arrests were made after following all lawful procedures, the NIA spokesperson said.

"The NIA has re-stated that an aggressive crowd had assaulted the NIA personnel who were taking arrested accused Manobrata Jana to the local police station for completing legal formalities."

"One NIA official sustained injuries and an official vehicle of the NIA was also damaged in the attack," the spokesperson said.

The NIA has already filed a complaint at the area police station seeking legal action against the assailants.

The agency had earlier said that that the duo had failed to appear before it despite repeated summons to join the investigation and cited a special court's order to defend its action in the case.

The blast had taken place in December 2022 and the NIA had taken over the investigation on June 6, 2023, on the direction of the Calcutta High Court.

Published 07 April 2024, 13:40 IST

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