After NHRC report on Bengal poll violence, 2 held for BJP worker’s murder
The Kolkata Police on Saturday arrested two men for allegedly murdering Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker Abhijit Sarkar in the city’s Narkeldanga area shortly after the assembly poll results were announced on May 2, police said.
The arrests were made two days after the Calcutta high court’s five-judge bench headed by acting chief justice Rajesh Bindal said the West Bengal government had failed to properly investigate complaints of violence lodged after the May-April assembly elections.
“The proceedings have become adversarial because the state has failed to properly investigate,” the bench said on July 22 while hearing public interest litigations relating to post-poll violence.
The accused Sanjay Dey, 26, and Avijit Dey, 25, are residents of Mahesh Barick Lane in Narkeldanga but were hiding in a relative’s house at Chandannagar in Hooghly district from where they were arrested, said joint commissioner of Kolkata police (crime) Murlidhar Sharma.
“With this, seven of the eight people named in the first information report (FIR) have been arrested,” said Sharma.
Sarkar was allegedly assaulted and strangled with a cable television wire by a mob.
The BJP, the state’s main opposition party, which won 77 assembly seats against 213 by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the assembly polls held earlier this year, has alleged that more than 30 of its supporters have been killed till this week and hundreds attacked. It has also alleged that many women have been raped and assaulted.
Abhijit Sarkar’s murder figured prominently in the National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) report that was submitted before the Calcutta high court on July 13. The five-judge bench had asked the NHRC to probe the allegations of post-poll violence.
BJP leader and advocate Priyanka Tibrewal, who is representing many victims of the alleged violence, filed an affidavit seeking DNA test to identify Sarkar’s body which was lying in a city morgue. The court ordered that a DNA test has to be done by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory.
The bench had earlier ordered a fresh autopsy of the body at the army’s Command Hospital in Kolkata. The victim’s brother, Biswajit Sarkar, is among the petitioners who moved the Supreme Court in May seeking formation of a special investigation team for probing allegations of violence by TMC workers.
Tibrewal told the court on July 13 that members of Sarkar’s family could not identify the body before the autopsy at Command Hospital. The court said that DNA samples from the corpse should be matched with the DNA of the victim’s brother.
Representing the state, advocate general Kishor Dutta accused Sarkar’s family of not cooperating with the police. He said several attempts were made to record their statements.
On June 21, the five-judge bench of acting chief justice Bindal and justices IP Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar dismissed a petition seeking recall of its June 18 order that asked the NHRC to probe allegations of human rights violation during the alleged violence. Dismissing the state’s plea for recall, justice Bindal observed that the conduct of the state did not inspire confidence of the court.
In its report, the NHRC panel slammed the state government saying the violence “shows a pernicious politico-bureaucratic-criminal nexus”. It even recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the violence and said trials should be conducted outside Bengal.
The NHRC report said at least 1,934 police complaints were lodged between May 2 and June 20. These included 29 murder charges, 12 complaints relating to rape and sexual assault and 940 complaints of loot and arson. The report said that out of the 9,304 people named as accused, less than 3% are currently in jail.
“The situation in the state of West Bengal is a manifestation of the law of ruler, instead of rule of law...This was retributive violence by supporters of the ruling party against supporters of the main opposition party,” the report said.
The court has directed the government to file its reply on the NHRC report by July 26. The matter will be heard again on July 28.
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee dismissed the NHRC report, calling it distorted. “How many commissions and central agencies did the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) send to (BJP-ruled) Uttar Pradesh?” she said last week. She also said that the violence took place between May 2 and May 5, the day she took oath.