Kolkata: In contrast to the initial explanation that was being floated by sources within the administration, a new confirmation has emerged in the mystery surrounding the death of student activist Anis Khan: the people who arrived at Anis’ house on the night of his death were representatives of the police, and not unidentified miscreants dressed as police officers.
Two police officials who were suspended for their suspected involvement in the Anis Khan death case have now been formally arrested. During the subsequent interrogation, according to police sources, one of them confessed to their presence at Anis’ residence. Additionally, according to sources privy to the initial report of an Additional Superintendent of Police, the same official also described to the investigators his version of the circumstances that led to Anis’ death.
On Wednesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the one who announced the news of the arrest of the two officials allegedly involved in the Anis Khan death case. During a briefing at the state secretariat Nabanna, Banerjee said, “We have arrested two police officials. Two others are being interrogated. The police is doing what they should”. After her initial briefing, the state’s Director-General of Police (DGP) Manoj Malviya conducted a separate press briefing, where he assured that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the government is performing its tasks “impartially” and announced the names of the arrested officials.
According to the DGP, one of them is Kashinath Bera, a home-guard of Amta Police Station. The other is civic volunteer Pritam Bhattacharya. What is particularly noteworthy is that Malviya referred to the ongoing case as a “murder case”, despite it not being officially designated as such yet. Since preliminary investigations are underway, no investigating official is at liberty to decisively brand it as a case of suicide, murder, accident, etc. This can be interpreted as an unusual inadvertent slip-of-tongue, but can also be seen as a Freudian slip that exposes certain pieces of information that the police may already have.
The two officials, meanwhile, have vehemently denied the accusations that they murdered the activist. According to the aforementioned sources, one of them claimed during the interrogation that Anis’s death occurred accidentally, after he started running away from the police officials upon seeing them; during his attempt to flee, he accidentally fell from the third floor of his house. The official further claimed that an assistant sub-inspector was waiting in front of Anis’ house when this happened.
Despite the official statements of the DGP and the CM, Anis’ family is unwilling to place their trust in the state-appointed SIT. They claim that an investigation spearheaded by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is their only hope. Sabbir Khan, brother of the deceased, said, “We are happy. We felt some relief when we heard that the police officials have been arrested. We are also pleased to see Didi (Mamata Banerjee) overseeing the case. No complaints there. But, have “suspects” been apprehended, or have “criminals” been apprehended? There is a difference. Have they been proven guilty? Will they be? We are unsure about whether or not the truly guilty have been arrested, which is why we still think that the CBI will do a better job.”
In a somewhat peculiar turn of events, Rakhi Bera, the wife of arrested home-guard Kashinath Bera, echoed the demands of the deceased’s family. Rakhi expressed grief and rage after she was met with the news of her husband’s arrest. She asserted that it is impossible for a “lower-level officer” like her husband to go to someone’s house for a search operation without orders from “higher-level officers”. “My husband is the victim of a deliberate conspiracy. Only a CBI-led investigation will reveal the truth. Thereafter, the true perpetrators will also be nabbed”, she claimed. “It is still unclear whether this is genuinely a case of murder or not. We shall see. Let truth prevail”.