Violence after Bengal polls was premeditated: Report
A fact finding team set up by a civil society initiative, Call for Justice, has said in its report that the simultaneous beginning of violence across villages and towns in West Bengal hours after the poll verdict came in were “not sporadic but premeditated, organised and conspiratorial” , a finding that is likely to open a new front in the ongoing hostilities between the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government.
The committee, headed by former chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court Permod Kohli, and comprising former chief secretary of Kerala, Ananda Bose, former DGP of Jharkhand, Nirmal Kaur, past president of ICSI Nisar Ahmed and former additional chief secretary of Karnataka, M Madan Gopal submitted its report to minister of state for home affairs G Kishan Reddy on Wednesday. HT has seen a copy of the report.
The BJP has alleged its workers and supporters have been the target of post-poll violence in West Bengal and has accused the TMC government in the state of failing to take action against the perpetrators of the crimes.
The TMC says the BJP is a sore loser and has been building a narrative against it.
The BJP expected to unseat the TMC and win over 200 seats in the state but could manage only 77. The TMC has alleged that action by enforcement agencies against its leaders since, the Governor’s ongoing criticism of the way the state is run, and proceedings against the state’s former chief secretary initiated by the Union government are all motivated by this loss.
The report echoes the Union government and BJP’s position about “demographic changes in border districts” on account of the state’s “porous borders” with Bangladesh, and the resulting “increase in unlawful activities in these areas”. It calls for an investigation by the National Investigation Agency into the post-poll violence in this context. It also seeks the creation of an “empowered committee... to study the demographic changes that have taken place over the past few decades, specifically in the border districts”.
“The Home Ministry will study the report and will try to implement its recommendations,” Reddy told reporters after the group submitted the report to him.
The report also criticises the state’s police (“victims who gathered courage and went to the police were either turned away or asked to settle the matter with the culprits”) and says many people left “their homes in villages for safer destinations, to shelter camps within and outside the state.” It puts on record the state government’s silence in sharing its views on the post poll violence with the committee.
“These are some wild allegations raised by a team, the members of which have no connection with Bengal. They have done what they have been instructed to do. The reality is somewhat different. There were some incidents of post-poll violence after May 2, till the time, when law and order was with the ECI. Even TMC workers were killed during that period. Ever since Mamata Banerjee took charge on May 5 there has been no such incidents. On the contrary there is a split in the BJP as the leaders are nowhere to be seen. BJP workers are now feeling ashamed of what they have said and done on the orders of their leaders,” said Kunal Ghosh, TMC spokesperson.
The committee has also asked for a special relief package to be declared by the state government that includes resettlement and rehabilitation and interdisciplinary proceedings against “delinquent officers” who failed to discharge the duties in protecting lives and destruction of properties.
In an address to party workers in Bengal on Tuesday, BJP president JP Nadda said, “The report says the violence was a well-planned conspiracy and criminals were involved with political workers. It says men were killed and women raped. Elections were held in so many states but nowhere did we witness such violence. Women faced most of the attacks although the chief minister of the state is a woman.”