NHRC seeks CBI probe into Bengal post-poll violence

Thursday 22nd July 2021 04:20 EDT

Kolkata: A National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) committee tasked with probing allegations of post-poll violence in West Bengal has recommended a CBI investigation into “grievous offences like murder and rape”, saying the situation in the state was a “manifestation of the law of ruler instead of rule of law”.

In its report tabled before the Calcutta high court, the panel formed by the NHRC chairman on directions of the court, also suggested trial of cases related to the violence be held outside the state.

The NHRC committee noted that a very large number of complaints had been received, close to 2,000, from 23 districts. Around 35% of the complaints related to murder or homicide and 4% to rape. The percentage of those arrested or in those still in custody is "abysmally low". Less than 3% of the accused are in jail. There were several instance of physical intimidation of women, who were on occasion stripped and humiliated.

"Analysis of statements recorded of the victims/complainants, supporting documents, data and other related information collected from the spot enquiries, including camp sittings, registered cases, etc., revealed that a large number of criminals, who enjoy state patronage and support, were responsible for abetting, planning, organising and even committing offences in a systematic and widespread manner," the report states.

While the report drew West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s ire over the NHRC allegedly pursuing “vendetta politics” of BJP and “leaking” findings to the media, NHRC countered the allegations as “absolutely baseless and factually incorrect”. The commission said the committee submitted its report to the HC on July13. “On the further directions of the Hon'ble Court, the Committee provided a copy of the said report to its Advocate in Calcutta, who shared with the Advocates of all the concerned parties in the related multiple writ petitions."

The committee referred to “spatio-temporal expanse of violent incidents in the state of West Bengal reflects the appalling apathy of the state government towards plight of victims.” It noted that “The committee has recommended that grievous offences like murder, rape, etc should be handed over to the CBI for investigation and these cases should be tried outside the state." The committee also referred to the post-poll violence as “retributive violence by supporters of the ruling party against supporters of the main opposition party.”

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