Arms Act

Calcutta, Jan. 17: Police may find it hard to make the graver charges stick on Arabul Islam in the absence of "hard evidence", senior officers said today.

"No investigation was initiated to find evidence that can prove the non-bailable charges. The charges mention firearms, other deadly weapons and explosives. But none of these has been found from the accused," said an officer.

Among the eight charges drawn up against Arabul, four are non-bailable offences ' attempt to murder, possessing or exposing firearms, manufacturing or using explosives and causing hurt by dangerous weapons.

One of the officers handling the case conceded that there was no material or physical evidence against the former MLA. Other senior officers not investigating the case concurred with him. The Telegraph lists what the officers said about each non-bailable charge:

Possessing or brandishing firearms: The officers pointed out that no weapon was found on Arabul. "So, how do you prove the charge that Arabul was carrying a weapon, let alone firing from one, when you cannot produce it in court?" an officer asked.

He pointed out that the police should have conducted a thorough investigation at the spot where the attacks took place on January 6 and January 8 to collect evidence like empty shells of cartridges or record statements of eyewitnesses.

"It doesn't appear that the investigation was conducted seriously," the officer said. South 24-Parganas SP Praveen Tripathi refused to comment.

Indian Explosives Act: No bomb or splinters were collected from the spot. Forensic experts were not sent to the spot. Even in the absence of splinters they could have found out whether bombs were used.

Causing hurt by using dangerous weapons: Other than firearms, dangerous weapons generally mean knife, dagger, bhojali or any sharp object. The police have not yet seized a single such weapon from Arabul.

If the above three charges get quashed in court, the most stringent charge ' attempt to murder ' may not stand scrutiny in court, an officer said.

"With what weapon did Arabul try to carry out a murder, a court may well ask," the officer said. "This could be a valid question."

According to another officer, if no firearm, explosive or other dangerous weapon is found on an accused, the police try to prove him guilty with the help of circumstantial evidence.

"But this largely depends on the investigating personnel," the officer said. "If they react promptly and carry out a thorough search, chances are that they might find something clinching. This effort appears to have been missing in this case. Now it may be too late to collect evidence."

An officer explained that lapses take place sometimes when the investigators feel that the "political leadership" is not interested in pursuing a case. "With senior ministers speaking up for Arabul, what is the district police expected to do?"

Citing the initial report submitted by Tripathi, the SP, to the home department on the arson attack at Bamanghata, the officer said: "He mentioned nothing about firing in his findings even though a young man was injured. A district police chief's findings are considered to be the main police investigation."

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