The Calcutta High Court on Friday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to take up the case pertaining to the violence in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, in which eight people were burned to death, Bar and Bench reported.

The CBI is also investigating the cases connected with the violence that broke out in Bengal after election results were announced in May.

Eight people had died in Birbhum district’s Bogtui village on March 22 after their houses were set on fire following the alleged murder of a panchayat leader of the ruling Trinamool Congress.

The state advocate general on Friday urged the court to stay the operation of the order, but the bench rejected the request.

The bench told the West Bengal Police’s Special Investigation Team, which has been looking into the case, not to carry out any further inquiry, Live Law reported. It has also told the CBI to file a progress report on the next date of hearing on April 7.

The court had reserved its order on Thursday after hearing arguments from the petitioner and the state government.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj had taken suo motu congisance of the matter. A lawyer named Anindya Kumar Das had also filed a public interest litigation demanding that the case should be handed over to either the CBI or the National Investigation Agency.

On Thursday, the National Human Rights Commission too suo motu cognisance of the incident in Bogtui village. The human rights body issued notices to the chief secretary of West Bengal and the state police and asked them to submit detailed reports on the matter within four weeks.

On March 23, the National Commission for Women and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights also took cognisance of the case, and asked the police to submit action taken reports.

The incident

The violence in Birbhum took place following the alleged murder of Bhadu Sheikh, a panchayat leader of the ruling Trinamool Congress. He died after miscreants allegedly hurled bombs at him on Monday night.

Subsequently, violence erupted and several houses, including two belonging to the men accused of Sheikh’s murder, were allegedly attacked and set on fire.

The police said women and children were among those killed. Seven charred bodies were recovered from one house alone, while one person died of injuries in a hospital in the district.

The West Bengal police’s SIT arrested at least 22 people have been arrested so far in connection with the violence. Eleven of them were held on the day of the incident itself.

The Birbhum killings have led to another political maelstrom in the state with the Trinamool Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and Left trading barbs at each other.