NHRC panel seeks CBI probe into Bengal post-poll violence

Report cites cases of murder, rape and molestation.

July 15, 2021 05:15 pm | Updated July 16, 2021 06:02 am IST - NEW DELHI

Investigation being conducted on post-poll violence in West Bengal, in Birbhum. File

Investigation being conducted on post-poll violence in West Bengal, in Birbhum. File

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) committee formed to probe complaints of post-poll violence in West Bengal has recommended that cases of heinous crimes be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

In its report to the Calcutta High Court on Monday, the panel said it received 1,979 complaints covering over 15,000 victims during its inquiry, which included visiting the State from June 24 to July 10.

“A large number of cases related to murders, rapes, molestation and vandalism received from local sources in West Bengal while the teams were camping there,” the report said.

The Calcutta High Court-ordered panel, which was headed by NHRC member Rajiv Jain, concluded that the State government had exhibited apathy towards the victims. It found that there was “retributive violence” by Trinamool Congress supporters against supporters of the “major opposition party”, referring to the BJP.

‘Restore confidence’

“There is need to provide justice to victims and restore their confidence in the criminal justice system, which can be best rendered by a neutral agency. Hence, it is recommended that all heinous cases, including murder, unnatural deaths, rape and grievous hurt, and complaints carrying these allegations, should be transferred to the CBI for investigation,” the report said, adding that the trial of the CBI cases should be conducted outside West Bengal.

The report said there had been 29 complaints related to murder and 12 cases of attempt to rape/sexual assault/molestation. The panel concluded that the police and government officials had been found lacking.

“It is quite evident that police is working under influence and in a biased manner and do not have the courage to take action against looming goons belonging to the ruling dispensation,” the report said.

The panel said out of the 9,304 people accused in the cases, only 14% had been arrested. The committee also added that it found victims hesitant to speak during its 311 spot visits in the State, with some even reporting being threatened after meeting with the NHRC teams.

“Several victims also complained that they were being discriminated against in getting vaccination for COVID-19 because they were perceived to be supporters of the main opposition party,” the report said.

Among the heinous crimes alleged following the completion of Assembly election in May, the panel said women in Kenbona village reported that “police along with Trinamool Congress goons broke into their houses at midnight” on May 23 and they were taken into custody “in semi-nude condition”.

“The spate of violence shows a pernicious politico-bureaucratic-criminal nexus. Criminals indulged in violence against political rivals while the bureaucratic edifice was complicit in various degrees… The presence of this nexus in a border State also has larger national security implications,” the panel said.

The panel recommended setting up a court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to register cases and investigate them. It also said the State government should formalise its witness protection scheme.

“If the above mentioned worrisome trend is not arrested, where the entire might of the governmental machinery has been used [through innumerable acts of omission and commission] for furthering the political objectives of the party in power, the disease may spread to other States also. This may well be death knell for democracy in this great nation,” the report said.

The seven-member panel, which included National Commission for Minorities vice-chairperson Atif Rasheed and National Commission for Women member Rajulben L. Desai, was formed after a June 18 order of the Calcutta High Court to examine complaints of post-poll violence in the State.

Top News Today


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.