A team of the Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday began its inquiry into the recent violence in West Bengal’s Birbhum district that left eight people dead, PTI reported.

On Monday night, Trinamool Congress leader Bhadu Sheikh, the panchayat head of Barshal village, had succumbed to his injuries after attackers hurled crude bombs at him. After this, violence had erupted in Bogtui village and several houses, including two belonging to the men accused of Sheikh’s murder, were attacked and set on fire with petrol bombs.

On Friday, the Calcutta High Court directed the central agency to take over the case from West Bengal Police’s Special Investigation Team.

“We have to conduct the probe on a war-footing as we have a deadline to meet,” an official from the Central Bureau of Investigation told PTI.

A group of officers led by Central Bureau of Investigation Deputy Inspector General Akhilesh Singh went to Bogtui village and visited the house of a man named Sonu Sheikh, where the bodies were found. They also visited other houses that were set ablaze.

The officers used three-dimensional scanning devices to gather evidence, according to The Hindu. Forensic experts also reportedly took samples from the sites.

Officials from the central agency also met Inspector General (Bardhaman Range) BL Meena and Birbhum Superintendent of Police Nagendra Tripathi in connection with the case.

The West Bengal Police’s Special Investigation Team arrested at least 22 people for the violence. Eleven of them were held on the day of the incident itself.

One of those who has been arrested is Anarul Hossain, the former president of the Trinamool Congress’ Rampurhat-1 block. The police have arrested him for allegedly preventing its officials from entering the Bogtui village.

On Saturday, Hossain alleged that there was a conspiracy against him, The Hindu reported. He claimed that he was at his house when the violence took place and that the police had not called him.

Meanwhile, Banerjee alleged of a “conspiracy” behind the killings in Birbhum, The Indian Express reported.

“I still think there is a conspiracy behind the Rampurhat incident,” she said during an event in Bagdogra in North Bengal. “It was a good decision to hand over the probe to the CBI. But if they only follow BJP’s diktats, we will be ready to protest.”

The violence

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 Birbhum district.

The killings have sparked a political controversy with the Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar accusing the Mamata Banerjee government of allowing the state’s law and order situation to collapse.

The police have filed two first information reports, one in connection with Sheikh’s death and the second related to attack on the houses. The accused persons have been booked on charges of murder, attempt to murder, arson and other sections of the Indian Penal Code.

On Thursday, the National Human Rights Commission took suo motu cognisance of the violence. 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.