Violence After Voting : Post-Poll Violence In West Bengal

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • A Public Interest Litigation was recently filed before the division bench of Calcutta Court comprising of 2 judge bench by an advocate.
  • However, the Calcutta High Court felt that the matter which came before it needs to be addressed by a larger bench of this court hence, immediately after lunch break a larger bench of Calcutta High Court was formed.
  • The petition in reference is Anindya Sundar Das v. Union of India [WPA (P) 143 of 2021]
  • The decision was pronounced by a 5 judge bench of Calcutta High Court constituting of Calcutta High Court Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justice Subrata Talukdar, Justice Harish Tandon, Justice Soumen Sen and Justice I.P Mukerjee.

BACKGROUND DETAILS

  • Thepublic interest litigation filed by advocate Anindya Sundar Das was about post-poll violence in the State of West Bengal that started after the election results were declared in the State. Many things were highlighted in the petition and the petition sought directions.
  • The larger bench was formed keeping in mind the life and liberty of people was at stake in the State of West Bengal.
  • The petition stated that the lives of civilians were in danger due to State's inaction to stop the violence that led to the loss of lives not just of the party workers but even innocent people.
  • It was stated in the petition that after the election results were declared the TMC party workers and activists attacked the houses of the opposition party workers and activists. Not just this, they even attacked the houses of those innocent people by looting and plundering because they cast their votes to other opposition parties.

FURTHER DETAILS

  • Usually, some kind of violence has always occurred after election out comes but this time the local ruffians have attacked people in the name of religion. They have dragged the people from their houses and looted their livestock.
  • It was stated in the petition that in the past such violent incidents took place and the State Administration had taken active participation in preventing the same but this time after the State Assembly elections were over in the State of West Bengal, the state of affairs was terrible. The police personnel in the State have acted as dumb spectators and are completely insensitive to the gruesome situation which is taking place between different political parties which have left people dead.
  • The petition also pointed out the issue of fake news being spread on various social media platforms which havecaused friction amongst various religions and communities within the State and the State administration has kept mum on this whole situation.
  • The daily lives of common people has been hampered by the havoc and dreadful activities caused by different party workers who are blaming each other for the deaths and severe injuries caused by such violent activities.
  • The following things have been pleaded in the petition:
  1. To direct the concerned authorities to take steps to stop the post-election violence in West Bengal.
  2. To direct the authorities to start an independent investigation into this matter by forming a Special Investigation Team by the Hon'ble Court.
  3. Direct the concerned authorities to hand over the investigation to the Special Investigation Team (SIT)and to file a report before this court after the investigation.
  4. The respondents in the petition should be directed to pay compensation to the families of the victim who lost their lives.
  5. To direct the Union of India to deploy central forces to control and stop the post-poll violence in the State of West Bengal.

COURT ORDER

  • The court directed the advocate general to file an affidavit mentioning the names of the places where violence broke out, the measures taken to prevent and control the situation.
  • As the advocate general sought time for filing the affidavit, the next date for hearing on this petition has been fixed for May 10, 2021.

THE AFTER MATH OF 2021 WEST BENGAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS

The BJP has contended numerous examples of violence across the State of West Bengal like looting, assaulting and sexual crimes against women, murder, etc. There have been several videos and photos making the rounds on the Internet which shows disturbing incidents of violence after election results were declared in the State.

BJP has claimed that in Jagaddal, a woman was killed while trying to save her son from TMC party workers. Also in Sonarpur and Ranaghat,2 BJP workers lost their lives as they were brutally killed according to the party. Also, videos of BJP party offices being vandalised, burnt and also their properties being attacked have been circulating on social media.
While the Trinamool Congress denied their role in this violence which took place in many parts of West Bengal, the BJP spoke at length about the violent acts against BJP party workers at the hands of TMC workers.

Furthermore, BJP asserted that in Birbhum many women were assaulted in full public glare and also in Nanoor constituency2 BJP women party workers working as election agents were gang-raped on 3rd May. The women were thrashed by men and were pulled by their hair while people acted as mute spectators. As per India Today’s Report one of the woman who was gang-raped is still missing since the incident.

COMMENTS, CLAIMS& COUNTER-ATTACKS

  • Statements made by Political Party/ Leaders

• BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) –The BJP claims that many BJP workers have been injured or died, women have been attacked and assaulted, houses and shops were vandalised and looted by TMC party hooligans.

• Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee - The West Bengal Chief Minister has said that in various parts of West Bengal the total number of deaths that took place due to post-poll violence is 16.

However, rejecting the claims made by the BJP, Mamta Banerjee said that violence took place only in those regions where the saffron party i.e. the BJP emerged victoriously.

• Firhad Hakim, Senior Trinamool Congress Leader –He criticised the Central Government for sending teams instead of covid vaccines and said that action will be taken against the culprits and he mourns the loss of a few live in this violence.

• V. Muralidharan, Union Minister of State for External Affairs–The Union Minister’s car was attacked when he visited Panchkuri village. In his tweet, he alleged that his car was attacked by one of the TMC party workers.

He indirectly without naming anybody and blaming them for violence said that some chief ministers are going in villages and instigating the public.

• DattatreyaHosable, General Secretary of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) –He criticized the post-election violence by stating that there has been a conspiracy behind this violence. Further condemning the whole situation the RSS in its statement said that neither were the rioters afraid nor did the police take action against them.

• Shiv Sena –The party said that the post-poll violence shows the horrifying situation in the State of West Bengal and indicates that the rule of force triumphs over democracy.

• MahuaMoitra, MP &Trinamool Congress Leader–She tweeted that the BJP should stop spreading lies and the BJP's IT cell which is spreading fake news nationwide it not true.

• Derek O'Brien, MP – Even he denied any involvement of Trinamool party workers and put the entire blame on BJP. He tweeted that it is BJP's intra-party fights.

• Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP West Bengal General Secretary – He tweeted by sharing a video stating that Muslim Goons of BJP are assaulting BJP women workers in Kendamari village situated in Nandigram.

• Rekha Sharma, National Commission for Women (NCW) – After such videos of Nandigram where women were assaulted by men came into light the chairperson of NCW said in one of her tweets that NCW will take suo moto cognizance of this case.

  • Statements made by Celebrity

While many were silent on this issue and the rest busy fighting covid. There is one Bollywood celebrity who is quite vocal on every matter and misses no chance to show how super patriotic she is by supporting BJP. She is dubbed by many as an unofficial BJP spokesperson.

• Kangana Ranaut, Bollywood Actress – She tweeted in context of the post-poll violence calling the incident as horrible and said there is a need of ‘super gundai to kill gundai’ and called Mamta Banerjee ‘an unleashed monster.’ Further, she tweeted and requested PM Modi to tame Mamta Banerjee by showing his ‘Viratroop’ from the early 2000s.

  • This tweet led to her Twitter account being suspended permanently.

CONCLUSION

Post-poll violenceis very old and not a new thing for the people of West Bengal. Even when CPI(M) was in opposition there used to be such incidents of violence but in the last few years as the BJP started to have an eyeon West Bengal and now has emerged as the biggest opposition party, the violence has been given a new communal colour of Hindu-Muslim which has worsen the situation with time. However, in West Bengal communal, caste and religious-based political parties have not been able to play an effective role.

 

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