NHRC team probing Bengal violence faces mob, ‘threats’

The NHRC team, which was recording videos of some houses allegedly damaged in the post-poll violence, was reportedly surrounded by around 20-25 people, including men and women.

THE NHRC team investigating post-poll incidents in West Bengal on the orders of the Calcutta High Court faced heckling and reportedly threats of violence in Jadavpur on Tuesday afternoon. The vice-chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Atif Rasheed, who was with the team, said a mob had tried to hit and chase them, and that police personnel accompanying them had provided no help.

DCP, Jadavpur, Rashid Munir Khan said police had not received any complaints.

The NHRC team, which was recording videos of some houses allegedly damaged in the post-poll violence, was reportedly surrounded by around 20-25 people, including men and women.

Rasheed tweeted a video saying, “As member of the committee formed by Calcutta High court and Vice Chairman of National Commission (for) Minorities, we had come here to check complaints that we had received. We found that more than 40 Houses have been burnt & vandalised in this area and no one stays in those houses anymore. Some goons attacked us and even the police didn’t help… They tried to hit us and tried to chase us. Such thing happened to us imagine what’s the condition of common people here. We informed local police and administration but no one is present here.”

Sources in police said there was a verbal altercation between the team and some people.

On June 21, NHRC Chairperson Justice (retd) Arun Mishra had constituted the panel headed by former Intelligence Bureau chief Rajiv Jain to enquire into complaints of post-poll violence in West Bengal, following orders of the High Court.

Jadavpur MLA Debabrata Mazumdar of the ruling Trinamool Congress claimed it was the NHRC team that had provoked people. “I heard that the team was accompanied by a Central force. They were joined by some locals who intentionally tried to provoke the locals. An altercation took place. BJP workers, in fact, attacked the local people of the area.”

BJP MLA and leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari tweeted that the incident showed that “democracy is going to the ruins in Bengal”.

Meanwhile, in Delhi, a civil society group submitted a “fact-finding report” on post-poll incidents in the state to Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy, calling the violence “premeditated” and aimed at supporters of a party. It also accused the state administration of failing to control the violence and recommended an SIT probe.

The group, ‘Call for Justice’, is headed by retired Sikkim High Court judge Justice Permod Kohli and includes several former IAS and IPS officers. Quoting from the report, Reddy said, “About 15,000 incidents of violence occurred post elections. As many as 7,000 women suffered atrocities. Sixteen districts reported these incidents and 25 people were killed.”

He added that the government would study the report and “try to implement its recommendations”.

Kohli told the media, “People were made to leave their home and take shelter in Assam. Some houses were totally destroyed. Even the bridge of a village which voted for a particular political party was demolished. Their water connection was snapped.”

Retired IAS officer from Karnataka M Madan Gopal said: “That it was sporadic or spontaneous violence is not true. It was premeditated, well-planned and widespread violence.”

According to the report, “In most cases, victims were afraid to lodge a complaint with police either due to fear of reprisal or due to lack of faith in police.” It recommended that the Central government initiate disciplinary proceedings against those officers, including IAS, who had “failed to discharge their duties” in protecting lives and destruction of properties. —with ENS, Delhi

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