Bengal violence: HC asks govt to file affidavit in 3 days
The Calcutta high court on Friday asked the West Bengal government to file a report within three days on post-poll violence that has killed 16 people even as political clashes that have rocked the state for four days winded down.
The high court set up a five-judge bench headed by acting chief justice Rajesh Bindal to hear a public interest litigation (PIL) related to post-poll violence that started after the Trinamool Congress won a thumping victory in the assembly polls on Sunday.
Advocate Anindya Sundar Das, who filed the public interest litigation on Thursday, said, “The matter was first heard by the division bench in the morning. Considering its seriousness, the court formed a larger bench comprising five judges.”
The state has been directed to file an affidavit on Monday, specifying areas where violence took place and steps taken by the government. The matter will be heard on Monday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has blamed TMC for the violence and approached the Supreme Court demanding a federal probe into the clashes. But chief minister Mamata Banerjee has accused BJP leaders of spreading fake videos and provoking people. TMC has also pointed out that several of its workers were attacked and killed.
The four-member team of the ministry of home affairs (MHA), which arrived in Kolkata on Thursday and met the home secretary, called on governor Jagdeep Dhankhar at Raj Bhawan on Friday morning. Later, the team left for South 24 Parganas district located adjacent to the state capital and met violence-affected families at villages in Bawali, Satgachhia and Mohanpur areas.
Dhankhar had spoken out against the violence. TMC’s outgoing deputy parliamentary affairs minister Tapas Roy said, “It is unbecoming of a governor.”
“Somebody has to take responsibility for the violence. Where is the problem if the MHA team probes the incidents?” said BJP state vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar.
On Friday morning, the bodies of two high school students were found hanging from a tree in the Mothabari area of Malda district. BJP posted photos of the bodies on social media and claimed that they were BJP supporters murdered by TMC. Families of the deceased, however, told the local media and police that the boys had no conflict with anyone and left home on Thursday night. They left their mobile phones at home.
“The bodies have been sent for postmortem examination. We cannot comment on the cause of death but there were no external injuries,” a district police officer said on condition of anonymity.
BJP asked its newly elected 77 legislators to boycott the state assembly till violence stops in the state. The process of oath taking was completed on Friday. Of the 292 seats where polls were held, TMC bagged 213. Polls in the remaining two seats, where two candidates died of Covid-19, will be held later.
“BJP legislators who came to Kolkata for the oath taking ceremony do not know If they can return to their constituencies safely. In view of the violence, we have asked them to stay in their constituencies. They will not attend the assembly till the killings stop,” said Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh.
Members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha (women’s front), led by their national president and Kerala’s Coimbatore South MLA Vanathi Srinivasan and state president Agnimitra Paul, who was elected from the Asansol South assembly seat, held a demonstration near the state of Gandhi in the Maidan area. They courted arrest when the police tried to remove them from the site. The arrested Mahila Morcha members were released in the evening.
“In Mamata Banerjee’s Bengal women can be tortured but they do not have the right to hold a peaceful demonstration against violence,” said Paul.
In South 24 Parganas, police recovered some crude bombs from the Bhangar area. The bombs were kept in a bag that local residents spotted.