Susanta Ghosh is an Indian politician belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M). He was a West Bengal state cabinet minister in the CPI(M) cabinet of 2006 under the Chief Ministership of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, and is currently Member of the Legislative Assembly from Garbeta (Vidhan Sabha constituency). In the 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991 and 1987 state assembly elections, Susanta Ghosh won the 220 Garbeta East assembly seat.
In August 2011, Ghosh was arrested for the murder of seven persons, and spent six months in jail while several bail applications were turned down by the high court. He managed to obtain bail from the Supreme Court in February 2012.
The murder charges were the result of a grisly nine-year-old multiple murder, and vigorous police investigation became possible only after the Trinamool Congress came to power in West Bengal. The police dug up an area near Ghosh's ancestral house in Benachpara, Garbeta, where several bodies had long been suspected to have been buried. They discovered seven skeletons, leading to it being called the skeleton case in the media. Eventually, two of the skeletons were identified by matching their DNA with that of living relatives; they were identified as workers of the Trinamool Congress party, who had been killed in a well-known unsolved crime from 2002. Ghosh was identified as the leader of the murderous attack, and an application for anticipatory bail and several other bail requests were rejected after testimony from other arrested accomplices appeared to implicate him.
Ghosh emerged as a CPM leader in an era of violent politics in several areas of rural Bengal. Ghosh's area of West Midnapore district has long been the hub of violence directed against members of the political opposed parties.In a speech in the area in 2000, Mamata Banerjee is reported to have 'asked her workers to "chop-off" the hands that had burnt their houses and killed friends'.
In November 2010, Ghosh was himself in the news for suggesting that the CPI(M) cadres should beat up Trinamool workers ("Prem noy, oder pyadani din.", No love, just thrash them.)
Abduction and murder in 2002
In 2002, seven Trinamool Congress workers were abducted by the CPI(M) from Keshpur in West Midnapore. While two bodies were recovered, five others were never seen again.
At the time, CPI(M) had been governing West Bengal for several decades. After nine years, when Trinamool Congress came to power, the area where the bodies were suspected to have been buried was dug up and the skeletons were discovered. One of the skeletons was identified by his son based on its shirt, and an FIR was filed against Ghosh. The case came to be known as the Garbeta Skeleton case.
Meanwhile, the CPI-M party newspaper, Ganashakti claimed that the charges were politically motivated. Shyamal Acharya, who had filed the FIR, had been arrested in 2009 for storing firearms unlawfully in his house.
Later, the Central Forensic Science Laboratory determined that DNA obtained from the teeth of two of the skeletons matched those of two trinamool workers, Ajay Acharya and Swapan Raju Singh. After this his anticipatory bail was cancelled.
A CID officer indicated that one eye-witness to the murders, Gobinda Majhi, has been identified. Majhi has said that five Trinamul supporters rushed into his house in Godapiashala village while being chased by about 40 CPI(M) workers. They were then dragged out by the CPM activists, hacked and shot in the courtyard of his house. Gobinda had fled in fear. Next morning, he returned and found his cart missing. He presumed that the bodies had been taken away in the cart. Out of fear of the ruling CPI(M) party, he never told about the incident to anyone.
At least two other Trinamool workers have testified about the attack that night; they had managed to escape with bullet injuries in the hand and arm.
A few days after this, the local administration quickly accepted the villagers’ long-standing demand of building a mud wall around the wetland. It was suspected that this was done so that no one could approach the area where the bodies had been buried; the CPM cadres in fact warned the villagers not to trespass there.
Ghosh's confidential secretary Debasis Pain and two CPM workers have also been arrested in the case. The police claim that these three persons have said that the murders were planned by Ghosh, and that he was personally present when the bodies were being buried.
Shankar Shau, CPIM leader, arrested
On 3 September, another key accomplice who had gone into hiding, the CPI(M) local committee secretary Shankar Shau, was arrested from Kolkata. Shau, who had been the headmaster of Benachapra Primary School, had been expelled from the party for corruption in 2007, but was re-instated at Ghosh's instance. Other witnesses have pointed to Shau as being the ringleader of the gang who chased and killed the Trinamool workers in 2002. Shau is also suspected of running an arms racket for CPIM workers.
- "220 - Garhbeta East Assembly Constituency". Partywise Comparison Since 1977. Election Commission of India. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
- PTI (11 August 2011). "Former CPI(M) minister accused in a murder case arrested". Chennai, India: The Hindu.
- "Key accused in Garbeta skeleton case held in city". Times of India. 3 September 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2011. "During grilling, the other accused revealed that Shau was the key person to plot the attack. Later, CPM men removed the five Trinamool men's bodies and buried them at Benachapra under his direction," said a senior CID officer. ... [His] name was the third on the list of accused mentioned in the FIR. ... arrested partymen have claimed that Shau was in charge of arms distribution among CPM camps in West Midnapore.
- rediff.com quote: "now we have decided to retaliate...if they kill our people, we will kill their's," said a Trinamul worker.
- "Midnapore skeleton case complainant himself an offender: CPI-M". Sify.com. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
- Ganashakti shows photo of Shyamal Acharya with a recovered firearm.
- "A couple of teeth cracked open 9-yr-old Bengal murder mystery". Indian Express. 2011-08-13. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
- "Skeleton case: CID wants to take Ghosh into 14-day custody". The Times Of India. 2011-08-10.
- "Mass grave: 'Survivors' recount horror". The Times Of India. 2011-06-07.
- "Sushanta supervised burial of Trinamul bodies: CID". Telegraphindia.com. 2011-08-13. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
- "Skeleton case: Aide of ex-minister, CPI(M) worker held". Indian Express. 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
- "Net closes in on Sushanta". The Telegraph (Kolkata). 10 August 2011. "The witness, Gobinda Majhi of Godapiashole village in Keshpur, has told us that the five Trinamul supporters were being chased by a large group of CPM activists," the CID officer said. "The five of them rushed into Gobinda’s house. But they were dragged out by the CPM activists, hacked and shot in the courtyard of his house."