NEW DELHI: Blaming “state terror” for political violence in West Bengal, a group of citizens has written to President Ram Nath Kovind and called for a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe monitored by a retired Supreme Court judge for a fair investigation and speedy justice.
Referring to the “targeted political killings” and violence after the West Bengal assembly elections and “deficient and inappropriate” response of the local administration and police, they demanded that these cases be handed over to the NIA to deal with the “anti-national” onslaught on the culture and integrity of the country as it is a border state.
Nearly 150 people, including retired judges, diplomats, bureaucrats, police officials and veterans, have submitted this memorandum to the president on Monday.
The memorandum said, “We are greatly disturbed by the mindless instigation of reported violence in electoral vengeance against the people who 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 forced migration of people to shelter homes.”
These unfortunate developments, if unchecked, could establish a trend which will undermine and ultimately destroy the deep rooted democratic traditions of India, they said.
Citing media reports, they said over a dozen persons, including women, have been killed in post-poll violence in the state in over 15,000 incidents of alleged violence.
As a result, 4,000 to 5,000 people have reportedly migrated to Assam, Jharkhand and Orissa, they said, seeking a special relief package for the victims of violence, and efforts for their rehabilitation.
“Offences reportedly of rape, attempted rapes, and violating the modesty of women, targeting scheduled castes and tribes, and incidents of religious sacrilege are the worst manifestation of post-poll violence in West Bengal,” they said.
The BJP has blamed the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress for the violence, while the TMC has accused the saffron party of politicising incidents of violence in which, it has said, its workers have also lost lives.
The state government has also refuted the allegations of large-scale violence.
The memorandum said, “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’.”
Noting that law and order is a state subject, they said the state government under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee must act in accordance with the Constitutional mandate to maintain it and curb violence with an iron hand to ensure peace and tranquillity.
Former Delhi High Court chief justice B C Patel, former Bombay High Court chief justice Kshitij Vyas, former RAW chief Sanjeev Tripathi, former Punjab DGP P C Dogra and former Jammu and Kashmir DGP S P Vaid are among the signatories to the memorandum.
Meanwhile, over 2,000 women lawyers from across the country wrote to Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana on Monday urging him to take cognisance of alleged post poll violence in West Bengal and constitute a Special Investigation Team to register FIRs and investigation into the matter.
The letter signed by 2,093 women advocates, including from West Bengal, claimed that the post poll violence continuing since May 2 in the state has not even spared women and children.
The women lawyers said that there was a “constitutional crisis” in the state due to the violence since May 2, which has made the condition of the citizens in the state “deplorable”.
“The incidents of violence have shackled the conscience of thousands of women lawyers across the length and breadth of ‘Bharat’. It is stated with utmost grief that the perpetrators of violence have not even spared women and children,” it said.
The letter said that the police was hand in gloves with the goons and the victims were not in a position to even register their complaints and that there is a complete breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the state.
“Take cognizance 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 letter urged.
It also sought that a nodal officer, not belonging to West Bengal Police, be appointed to register the complaints of the victims.
“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; “Issue Directions that all post poll violence victims/family members may be duly compensated for death /injuries, loss of property etc. by the State of West Bengal,” it further said.
The letter also urged the CJI to ask the Director General of Police, West Bengal, to set up an effective complaint mechanism at all levels on priority basis and to file a daily report before the apex court, regarding the complaints received by Police Department from all channels.