The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday arrested Lalan Sheikh, the prime accused in its ongoing investigation into the death of 10 people when their houses were set on fire in West Bengal's Birbhum district earlier this year.
Official sources said that Lalan Sheikh was a close aide of the deceased, Bhadu Sheikh.
He was arrested Saturday night, and was produced before a court on Sunday, said sources.
The Birbhum massacre took place on March 21, 2022. It was alleged that Bhadu Sheikh from Bogtui village, who was the Upa Pradhan (Dy Pradhan) of Barshal GP, was murdered. He was injured in a blast at Bogtui Morh on NH-60.
The incident led to tension at Bogtui Morh on NH-60 and surrounding areas.
It was alleged that the followers and associates of the slain Bhadu Sheikh, ransacked the houses of rival groups in Bogtui and set them on fire with the aim to kill those inside.
Seven people were charred to death and four others sustained severe burn injuries.
Identities of the deceased persons could not be established. Later on, out of four injured victims, a woman succumbed to her injuries at Rampurhat Medical College and Hospital. Two more victims also succumbed to their burn injuries taking the toll to 10.
The State Police arrested 21 suspected persons.
As per a Calcutta High Court order, the CBI took over the investigation and registered the case on March 25. Immediately a large team of the CBI including experts from CFSL had reached Rampurhat. Vital physical and biological evidence was collected by the CFSL team.
The dead bodies recovered were completely charred and beyond recognition.
The biological samples of these victims as preserved during post-mortem examination along with the blood samples of the probable direct relatives of the victims were sent for DNA profiling. With the help of DNA profiling, the identity of all seven victims was established.
During the investigation, the CBI collected sufficient evidence using scientific methods. In the initial stage of the investigation, the village was almost deserted and no witnesses were forthcoming due to fear.
Many witnesses had taken shelter in other villages. After sustained efforts, several witnesses came forward and the statement was recorded.
It was found that there was a long-standing rivalry in the village between the two groups. One group was led by the late Bhadu Sheikh, while another group was led by a member of one of the victims' families and others.
The CBI initially arrested six people during the investigation. Four of them were arrested in Mumbai. Further investigation has been underway that has led to the arrest of the prime accused on Saturday.
A charge sheet was filed in the case related to the death of 10 persons at Bogtui Village, Bhirbhum District (West Bengal) Under Section 120-B r/w 147, 148, 149, 302, 307, 435, 436, 460, 201, and 109 of IPC.
(With inputs from ANI)