The final report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the issue of post-poll violence in the state observes that the situation in West Bengal is a manifestation of “Law of Ruler”, instead of “Rule of Law”.
The report submitted before the five-judge bench of Kolkata High Court on 13th July recommended that grievous offenses such as rape and murder should be handed over to the CBI and that these cases should be investigated, and trial should be conducted outside the state.
PILs were also filed before the High Court that alleged that people were subjected to assault, forced to flee homes, and properties destroyed as a result of post-poll violence in West Bengal.
The inquiry committee had also observed that the spate of violence showed a pernicious “politico-bureaucratic-criminal nexus” which is a deadly combination and has larger national security implications considering that West Bengal is a border state.
The Commission also found that the violence was neither sporadic nor random and that specific persons were targeted in the violence. The Commission has also mentioned a list of notorious criminals that included Forest Minister Jyotipriya Mullick and other Trinamool Congress functionaries.
The NHRC committee which has been tasked with investigating the incidents of post-poll violence in West Bengal has revealed that a very large number of complaints had been received, close to 2,000, from 23 districts. Roughly 35% of the complaints related to homicide or murder and 4% to rape. The number of those arrested or in those still in custody is “abysmally low”. Less than 3% of the accused are currently in jail. Several instances of physical intimidation of women, who were on occasion stripped and humiliated, have been recorded.
The report states, “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 committee has referred to the post-poll violence as “retributive violence by supporters of the ruling party against supporters of the main opposition party.”
Mamata Banerjee slammed the Centre arguing that the NHRC’s report was a “distorted” one and it was a “conspiracy against the state”. She cried foul and claimed the report was leaked to the media by the rights panel. She also said the NHRC team did not consult the state government or take into account its views.
“The BJP is now using impartial agencies to settle political scores and malign our state. The NHRC should have respected the court. Instead of leaking the findings to the media, it should have first submitted the same to the court. “What would you call it other than political vendetta of the BJP? It is yet to digest defeat (in the assembly polls) and that is why the party is resorting to such tricks,” she told a press conference.
The report strongly criticised the Mamata Banerjee-led state government for allegedly failing to stem the political violence that erupted after the Trinamool Congress’s victory in the assembly elections but however Mamata seems to be shamelessly defending this move and the acts of violence which resulted in disruption of life and livelihood of thousands of people. She has been consistently making a mockery of state institutions and democratic set up in the state and is well known for blaming the Centre for all the ongoing widespread violence within the state and further damaging the administrative structure, it is only justified for President’s rule to be imposed on Bengal soon before matters got out of hand. This worrisome trend needs to be checked or the “disease” may spread to other states as well.