The main accused in West Bengal’s Egra blast case has died at a hospital in Cuttack in Odisha. Krishnapada Bag alias Bhanu Bag was the owner of the illegal firecracker factory in East Medinipur district where a massive explosion killed nine people on Tuesday. After escaping from the area with burn injuries minutes after the explosion, Bag had admitted himself to a hospital in Odisha’s Balasore before being shifted to a private hospital in Cuttack where he died on Friday morning, sources said.
The West Bengal CID (Crime Investigation Department) which is investigating the case could not question him before his death as he was critical when he was admitted to hospital. Sources confirmed that Bag had sustained severe injuries in the explosion. The police had been seeking his interrogation in connection with the case, but his medical condition had made it impossible to question him.
Meanwhile, huge amounts of explosives have been recovered from an area situated around 15 kilometers from the blast site of Khadikul village of East Medinipur district. The recovery was made based on complaints from villagers about another cracker factory at Kamardiha village. Pictures suggest gunpowder and cracker-making materials were found inside the factory. The owner of the factory has been identified and is reportedly on the run from the police.
The case has already reached the Calcutta High Court with the BJP demanding a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the incident. On Thursday, the Calcutta High Court directed the CID to register a case under the Explosive Substances Act. The invoking of the Explosive Substances Act also opens doors for a probe by NIA, the anti-terror agency.
“We are of the prima facie view that provisions of the Explosive Substances Act will be attracted. Therefore, we order the State CID to invoke the said provisions and adhere to the provisions of the NIA act and report in this regard be placed before us on June 12,” a bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya ordered. The order was passed after Leader of Opposition in West Bengal, Suvendu Adhikari, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking an NIA probe in the case.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said the state government had no objection to an NIA probe in the case. She had also stated that Bag had been arrested earlier and claimed the Trinamool Congress did not have influence in the area. “He was arrested but got mail from the court. This panchayat was recently grabbed by BJP by purchasing some independent panchayat members. The BJP was behind the protest against the police. So, tell them (BJP) not to do politics. Tell them to demand probe by NIA, CBI ED whatever, we don’t have any objection,” the Chief Minister had said on Tuesday.
The BJP blamed the Trinamool Congress for the incident and said that the police had turned a blind eye to what was going on in the area. “Bombs were manufactured in this illegal factory. Panchayat elections are near. Trinamool Congress and the factory owner are colluding. One local TMC leader received protection from Mamata Banerjee,” Mr Adhikari had said.