About 146 retired public officials from various walks of life, including Judiciary, Civil and Police Services, Diplomats and Armed Forces Officers, have signed a petition expressing their concern over the recent spate of political violence unleashed in West Bengal following the conclusion of the state assembly elections. The petition has been submitted to the Hon’ble President of India, seeking an SIT probe in the matter to bring offenders to justice.
“Recent targeted political killings and bloodshed after the State Assembly elections in West Bengal highlight the need for every right-thinking citizen to observe nonviolence at all costs and respect a democratic process which inherently rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation,” the petition read.
The petitioners said they are submitting the Memorandum because they are greatly disturbed by the mindless instigation of reported violence in electoral vengeance against people who simply exercised their democratic right to vote for one political party or the other.
“Media reports, largely substantiated by eyewitness accounts, mention murders, rapes, attacks on persons and property, including by anti-national elements, leading to the forced migration of people to shelter homes. These reports show unabated attacks after the results of the West Bengal state elections and the deficient and inappropriate response of the local administration and police. These unfortunate developments, if unchecked, could establish a trend which will undermine and ultimately destroy the deep-rooted democratic traditions of India,” the petition added.
It further said, “The media has widely reported that over a dozen persons, including women, have been killed in post-poll violence in the State. Over 15,000 incidents of violence have reportedly taken place. As per credible reports, out of 23 districts in West Bengal, 16 districts have been badly affected by violence. As a result, 4000 to 5000 people have reportedly migrated to Assam, Jharkhand and Orissa.”
The petition, signed by 17 retired judges, 31 former IAS and Civil Services Officers, 32 ex-IPS officers, 10 former Ambassadors, and 56 Armed Forces veterans, demands a special relief package for the victims of violence, adding that all efforts should be made to rehabilitate them and provide them with adequate security.
It said serious offences such as of rape, attempted rapes, violation of the modesty of women, attack on scheduled castes and tribes, and incidents of religious sacrilege are the worst manifestation of post-poll violence in West Bengal.
The petitioners also came down hard against the TMC rule in West Bengal, accusing the Mamata Banerjee-led party of failing to uphold the law of the land as the state witnessed an unprecedented incident of political violence following the state assembly election results.
“It is clear that the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths resulting from political violence were the result of what should be understood as serious acts of commission and omission of the law and order enforcement machinery of the State, or, in the worst-case scenario, induced “State Terror,” the petition said.
Cautioning that the rampant bout of violence had the potential of eroding the democratic norms in the country, the petition sought President’s intervention in ensuring that the country’s democracy is salvaged and the post-poll violence as witnessed in West Bengal is not allowed to hit at the roots of the Indian democracy.
It demanded strict action against the culprits—firstly, by identifying the public servants who failed to take any action and abandoned their duty; secondly, by identifying the political provocateurs; thirdly, cases should be registered in respect of all offences in the wake of violence; and finally, effectively proceeding against the actual offenders to bring them to justice.
“It is recommended that an SIT monitored by a retired Supreme Court Judge appointed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India should be formed for a fair investigation and speedy justice. Further, since West Bengal is a sensitive border state, we request that these cases should be handed over to NIA to deal with the anti-national onslaught on the culture and integrity of the country,” the petition said.
2093 women advocates write to the Supreme Court judges, demanding them to take cognisance of post-poll violence in WB
About 2093 women advocates from 28 states and 8 union territories of India have written a letter to the Supreme Court judges, asking them to take cognisance of the post-poll violence in West Bengal continuing since 2 May 2021, and the erosion of rule of law and institutional breakdown in the state.
“The police is hand in gloves with the goons and the victims are not in a position to even register their complaints. There is a complete breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the State. Even the media is silent for the past few days and not showing the true and current picture of the State of West Bengal,” the letter said.
The signatories have asked the Supreme Court judges to take cognisance of the matter and constitute a Special Investigation Team to register FIRs and investigate into the deaths and other vengeful attacks as being reported in news.
The women advocates have also demanded direct court monitored investigation in a time bound manner, trial by specially constituted fast track court wherever charge sheet is filed by the SIT regarding cases emanating from the post poll violence in the State of West Bengal.
The letter asked the court to issue directives to provide full compensation for death/injuries/loss of property to the victims/family members of the post poll violence by the State of West Bengal.
Besides, the letter demands appointment of a nodal officer for the registration of complaints of the victims.
“Director General of Police of the State of West Bengal may kindly be directed to set up an effective complaint mechanism at all levels on priority basis and to file a daily report before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, regarding the complaints received by Police Department from all channels,” said the letter, adding that the Director-General of Police of the State of West Bengal to provide full protection to the victims.
Post Poll violence in West Bengal
Post-poll violence has become a leitmotif of news emerging out of Bengal following the declaration of results. Umpteen number of violence against political opponents have been reported from the state. In an overwhelming number of such incidents, the victims have been BJP supporters and workers while the accused were said to be the supporters of the TMC party. More than a dozen of BJP workers have lost their lives in the post-poll violence that ensued following the victory of the TMC party in the assembly elections.
The violence unleashed against them forced hundreds of BJP party workers and supporters to flee their villages along with their families. They crossed over to Assam where they have been provided temporary shelter under supervision by minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. It is not just the BJP but even CPI(M) which has accused the TMC of killing its workers. Reports of attacks on BSF jawans have also emerged in the media.