Bengal Violence: Calcutta HC Passes Interim Order; Commands State To Register All Cases, Provide Free Ration And Medical Treatment To Victims

Bengal Violence: Calcutta HC Passes Interim Order; Commands State To Register All Cases, Provide Free Ration And Medical Treatment To Victims A protest rally against TMC violence. (Samir Jana/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • The HC ordered the police to register all cases, and the Mamata Banerjee government to provide rations, free medical treatment to victims of post-poll violence

Based on the interim report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Calcutta High Court (HC) today passed an interim order directing the police to register all cases, and the West Bengal government to provide relief to the victims.

The court ordered the Mamata Banerjee government to provide rations to the victims, even those who don't have ration cards. The government was also directed to provide free medical treatment.

The court also observed that the state government was "found on the wrong foot" and was in "denial mode" through-out the post-poll violence.

As per the order, the second autopsy of BJP worker Abhijit Sarkar will be conducted at Command Hospital Kolkata. He was allegedly dragged by a wire-noose around his neck out of his house, on 2 May, by a group of around 30 to 35 TMC workers. Sarkar ran a canine shelter and small veterinary unit for ailing street dogs. Both he and his dogs were brutally beaten to death.

The seven-member Committee of NHRC submitted its brief report along with annexures in a sealed cover on 30 June.

The HC, on 18 June, taking note of the inaction of the state government over the matter of post-poll violence in West Bengal, had ordered the NHRC to constitute a committee to examine the complaints filed by persons who were displaced during the violence.

The NHRC committee headed by NHRC member and former Intelligence Bureau (IB) director Rajiv Jain subsequently invited the victims to file their complaints, and also visited the affected areas.

Reportedly, the NHRC team visited various parts of the state and met thousands of victims of post-poll violence perpetrated by TMC cadre. Large crowds thronged the CRPF camp at Salt Lake on 27 and 28 June to meet register their complaints.

Despite the high court warning the Mamata Banerjee government that there should be no obstruction against the NHRC inquiry, an NHRC team visiting Jadavpur on 29 June was attacked by Trinamool workers.

NHRC member and National Commission For Minorities Vice Chairman Atif Rasheed, leading the team, had to be escorted out by the CISF personnel as the Trinamool mob escalated its violent tactics.

Before that, Rasheed posted photographs (see this, this and this) of the damaged houses of BJP workers and supporters, most of them Dalits. All these workers and supporters who fled after their homes were attacked are reportedly yet to return.

The committee told the court that no police protection was provided to it despite prior notice to district magistrate as well as the local police.

Calcutta High Court today also issued a showcause notice to Rashid Muneer Khan, DCP Jadavpur, asking him to explain why contempt proceedings should not be started against him in connection with the attack on the NHRC team.

The NHRC’s investigation has been extended to 13 July which is the date of the next hearing. The court also directed the Chief Secretary, West Bengal, to preserve all documents relating to post-poll violence.

Post-Poll Violence in West Bengal

Soon after the election results showed the incumbent TMC as the winner, violent attacks began against BJP workers and those assumed to have supported the party in the polls.

Gruesome details of violence at the hands of TMC workers began surfacing.

The victims accused the mainstream media of turning a blind eye to the plight of people who suffered brutal violence at the hands of TMC cadre.

In their petitions to the Supreme Court seeking an SIT probe into all incidents of violence and the inaction of the police, the women victims of the violence narrated how they were beaten badly, sexually assaulted, gangraped in front of family members including children, how their houses were ransacked and valuable things stolen, and how they had to witness their relatives being hacked to death in front of their own eyes.

The women told the court that over this, they were being harassed by the local administration as well as the police to withdraw their complaints.

Several persons had to flee their home amidst the threat of assault by TMC cadre. BJP national president JP Nadda had claimed that the violence after the polls by TMC cadres had forced around 80,000 to abandon their homes in the state.

As per a Swarajya ground report, many conditions ranging from payment of stiff fines and undertaking to disassociate themselves from the BJP to ‘surrendering’ their womenfolk to Trinamool strongmen who had been lusting after them (the women) have been set for these displaced families.

"In many cases, the perpetrators of the atrocities against these hapless families (mostly Hindus) are Muslims. The Trinamool strongmen who are demanding that the women of these families ‘submit’ themselves to their sexual demands are also mostly Muslims," writes Jaideep Mazumdar.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, has consistently denied any violence, calling the complaints of the victim "a BJP gimmick". "There is no political violence in West Bengal. We condemn violence. Political violence is a BJP gimmick,” she said on 17 June.

The state government had filed a plea in the High Court seeking recall and stay of the 18 June order. The court, rejecting its plea, noted:

"There were allegations that the police are not taking action and that is why we had to involve NHRC. You have not put on record a single complaint received by you. Your conduct in this case does not inspire confidence of this Court."

The court also expressed surprise over the fact that while NHRC had received over 500 complaints, the state government claimed that no complaints have been received by its State Human Rights Commission.

Despite repeated admonishment by the High Court, the administration has failed to take up the welfare of the victims. The court had previously criticised the TMC government for making a “general statement” that all the petitions were “politically motivated" and reminded it that it was duty bound to maintain law and order in the state.

In today's order, the court observed:

"Till date, the state has not been able to create an atmosphere that could build confidence in the sufferers to return back to their homes and carry on their occupations. The complaints of most of them were not registered by the police or cross-complaints were filed against them."

"In some cases of heinous crimes, cases were only registered after the court took cognizance. Even then, investigations were carried out in a slip shod manner and hardly any arrests were made."

The court also noted that the complainants are too scared to even reveal their identities because of apprehending threat to life and property.

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