On the 2nd of May, Mamata Banerjee came back to power in the state of West Bengal with a thumping majority. Almost immediately, just as the trends became clear, rampant violence erupted in the state with TMC goons unleashing brutality on those who worked for BJP or voted for them in the state elections. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) submitted its final report on Bengal post-poll violence to the Calcutta High Court on the 14th of July.
In the report, the National Human Rights Commission recorded hundreds of cases of political violence that was perpetrated in the state. One of the cases was that of 30-year-old Arup Das from Narrah village in Bankura district. Arup was found hanging from a tree, lifeless, on the 5th of May 2021.
According to the NHRC report where it cites the statement of Arup Das’ father, on the 4th of May, several TMC goons entered the house of Arup Das and started damaging his property. The goons, who all belonged to TMC according to Das’ father, then started beating up all the family members mercilessly. According to his statement, the goons did not even spare his brothers’ family that lived with them.
In a shocking revelation, the father of Arup Das said that the TMC criminals who had entered the house to damage property and attack Arup Das molested the women in the family. The blouse of his brother’s wife was torn and the goons disrobed her by undraping her saree.
Further, after wreaking havoc in the house, the TMC goons dragged Arup Das and kidnapped him. According to the complaint, on the 5th of May, only a day after they had kidnapped him, Das was found dead, hanging from a tree.
A saga of police inaction in this case detailed in NHRC report on Bengal violence
Arup Das’ father in his statement to the NRHC claimed that while he had filed a police complaint, the police showed no interest in the investigation and an FIR was filed only after the Calcutta High Court came down heavily on the police.
The NHRC, after due perusal of the papers, has observed in this case that Arup Das’ father had filed a police complaint on the 5th of May, the day his son was found murdered, in Police Station Khandaghosh. However, the FIR was filed only on the 10th of June, over a month after the filing of the complaint. The NHRC also says that the FIR in the case was filed only after the court issued directions to take action. The NHRC also says that a case has been registered against 21 people, however, nobody has been arrested to date.
The NHRC observations in the case
While detailing this case, the NHRC in its Bengal violence report has made 4 observations pertaining to the case.
1. NHRC says that in his complaint on the 5th of May, the father of Arup Das had actually written that Das (his son) had committed suicide because of the lack of employment. However, since while talking to the NHRC he did not mention any of that, they suspect that he did not know about the contents of the complaint exactly.
There could be several explanations for this. It is entirely possible that someone misled Arup Das’ father, who was presumably in shock after finding his son hanging from the tree. The other explanation is the rampant fear that had gripped BJP workers and supporters in the face of mounting violence. OpIndia had recently spoken to a woman BJP worker who was gang-raped by TMC workers on the 2nd of May. She had told OpIndia that once when the police called her up to ask her whether she was gang-raped, she had first told them that she indeed was, and after a bit of intimidation, she had told them that nothing of the sort had happened with her. She had also mentioned several other women who were gang-raped but have denied that they were because they were scared of the backlash.
In this situation too, it is possible that the truth came out only when talking to the NHRC team (the woman too had only told the truth to the NHRC team and not the police).
2. The NHRC team confirms that several people from the same village corroborated the version of events as dictated by the father of Arup Das, however, they did not wish to come on the record and give their statements. They were allegedly scared of the TMC workers who had murdered Arup Das.
3. Initially, the case was investigated as an “unnatural death” case and it was only after the intervention of the court was an FIR filed by the police.
4. None of the accused have been arrested so far.
NHRC makes damning disclosures on post-poll violence in West Bengal
The admonition from the NCST comes in the wake of a damning report submitted by the National Human Rights Commission to the Calcutta High Court on July 14 regarding the post-poll violence in West Bengal.
The statutory public body said in its report that, after visiting 311 spots in 20 days and carrying out an extensive inquiry in the matter, the seven-member committee constituted to probe the post-poll violence in West Bengal concluded that the current situation of the state is a manifestation of ‘Law of Ruler’, instead of ‘Rule of Law’. It added that the loss of faith in state administration among victims is very evident.
Attaching details of the same, the NHRC report stated that it collected a whopping 1979 number of complaints from 23 districts where incidents of violence had taken place post-Mamata Banerjee’s May 2 win.
Most complaints are from Cooch Behar, Birbhum, Bardhaman, North 24 Parganas and Kolkata, said that NHRC reports adding that most of the complaints related to rape, molestation, and vandalism and were received through local sources in West Bengal while the team was camping there. The statutory body added that a list of 57 complaints related to women was received from the National Women Commission.