Chandigarh: The Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Chandigarh, has confirmed on Wednesday that most of the Narada sting tapes are neither doctored nor tampered with. Sources close to the development said that CFSL examined the files using a range of detection software and found that 47 clips are “in continuity”.
“Tampering, editing has not been found in them,” the report says. These include footage of people resembling some senior Trinamool leaders – ministers Subrata Mukherjee and Suvendu Adhikari, MLA Iqbal Ahmed (also Kolkata’s deputy mayor), MPs Sultan Ahmed, Saugata Roy, Prasun Banerjee, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Aparoopa Poddar, Mukul Roy – and IPS officer SMH Meerza discussing or accepting cash. Twenty-six other clips – allegedly showing Sovan Chatterjee, Firhad Hakim and Madan Mitra – could not be played with the software available with the lab. Therefore, the CSFL’s report on them is inconclusive. These also include the now dissolved Trinamool Yuva office-bearers and suspended Trinamool general secretary Shankudeb Panda.
Congress leader Arunava Ghosh, who is the defence counsel for Narada CEO Mathew Samuel+ , said the report protects his client’s reputation. “As a lawyer, I am duty bound to defend the reputation of my client. The CSFL examination report has proved it,” he said.
CFSL experts examined an iPhone, a pen drive, a Mac Book Pro and its hard disk. The video was analyses frame by frame, and the audio put through auditory , waveform and spectrographic analysis, say sources.
Trinamool MP Kalyan Banerjee, who is the counsel for some of the Trinamool leaders in the case, said, “I will not comment. This is sub-judice. The court has spoken against any media trial. I am surprised how a copy of the report is in possession of the media.” State advocate-general Jayanta Mitra didn’t give it much importance. “I have not read the report.
From what I hear, this report in itself doesn’t mean anything. According to my understanding, to prove any criminal allegation, it is important to have a mens rea -the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that constitutes part of a crime. Here, where is the victim to substantiate the charges against the accused? It needs a de tailed investigation. It needs to be proven that a crime has taken place first. There are, therefore, many dots in the chain of events that need to be linked. Only the CFSL report can’t give the allegations crutches to stand on,” he said.
Apart from the leaders, the CFSL report also “authenticates” conversations with some unidentified gobetweens -Mangal Bhai, Pintu, Tiger, Raja and an unnamed businessman. One of them apparently takes money with the promise to fix appointments with top leaders.
A glaring gap in the tapes appears to be the lack of conversations that precede the footage of some people accepting wads of cash. Trinamool has already questioned this loophole, claiming the leaders indicted in the tapes were only accepting party donations, which isn’t illegal if the money is accounted for in their annual and poll-eve EC reporting.
The tapes, though shot in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, were aired in March 2016.