Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy has said that he has received a report by Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA), a civil society group, on the post-poll violence in West Bengal and the next step will be taken after discussions with Home Minister Amit Shah.
He said that members of the group have worked as fact-finding committee and talked to victims who faced “atrocities” including “rape and murder by TMC workers”. He said apart from GIA, reports have also been given by various committees.
“They have given a report to the central government. The next step will be taken after discussions with the Home Minister,” he said.
He alleged that TMC workers have worked in an undemocratic manner in a democratic system and “resorted to goondaism” and said the government was being run against the constitution and the “police was working as spectators and like TMC workers”.
He said it was the duty of the state government to maintain law and order and provide protection to people but it was not doing so and the central government will take it up in the coming days.
Monika Arora, a Supreme Court lawyer who is part of the GIA, said that the marginalized section of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have been the worst sufferers of violence. She said local TMC leaders went in groups and “resorted to stone-pelting” as the ‘khela hobe’ song was played.
She said that the National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women, Nation Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights should take cognizance of the cases.
Arora said the commissions should inquire and issue necessary summons. She said they told the minister that the state DGP and the Chief Secretary should work “according to law,” FIRs should be registered, arrests made and “rule of law should prevail”.
“The minister has assured us that he will look at this aspect seriously,” she said.
The report ‘Khela in Bengal 2021: Shocking Ground Stories’ said that women have been singled out “for most horrific terror and intimidation” in the post-poll violence in Bengal with victims primarily belonging to very marginal sections of Hindu society that are BJP supporters.
It has recommended SIT probe under a retired Supreme Court judge and NIA investigation “as the gruesome violence may have cross border terror angle”.
The report said that treating the violence in Bengal merely as “political violence” is to trivialise the horrors faced primarily by marginal sections of Hindu society who supported or voted for the BJP”.
It said that “TMC model of violence to win elections and retain power” was at play in state assembly elections. The report also said that “state machinery was used for violence against the political opponent thus this bears the marks of a pogrom”.
The report said that women have “been raped, stripped, beaten and violated in the most horrific ways, crude bombs have been used, men murdered and shops and ration cards looted”.
Victims primarily belong to very marginal sections of Hindu society that are BJP supporters or voters,” it said.
The Group of Intellectuals and Academicians (GIA), a civil society group in New Delhi, said they interviewed 20 victims of the post poll violence in West Bengal and these were conducted online on platforms like Zoom and Goggle meet as well as on phone due to reports of total lawlessness in the state.
“We have to recognise this violence as an outcome of the inter-sectional gender, caste, religious, and economic identity of the victims. We contend that this violence was in the nature of a pogrom against political opponents. All present mechanisms of law be it the Supreme Court or various National Commissions must discharge their statutory duty to protect women and children of Bengal,” the report said.
It said that since 2011 when it came to power in Bengal, the TMC “has mirrored the Left formula of not allowing an alternate political voice to emerge in the state”. “This has been done through intimidation at local level elections as well as regular intimidation targeted at political rivals.”
The report said there is a presence of an “extortion racket run by the TMC” in West Bengal.
“The main modus operandi of the TMC is to debilitate political opponents by targeting their bodies, economic resources and their psychological well being. Almost all our respondents mentioned having to pay up large amounts of extortion money to TMC after the election results came out,” it said.
“Women have been singled out for the most horrific terror and intimidation. Our data reveals many incidents of rape, grievous bodily harm, the threat of rape, stripping and sexual violence. The streets were sites of dehumanization of women of all ages. While the TMC party high command and leaders belong to privileged backgrounds and did not face the violence overtly and covertly supported by them, the most marginal communities suffered,” it stated.
The report said that violence against men also ultimately affects women. “In many of the cases we studied the menfolk have been beaten and intimidated to run away. This has left the women extremely vulnerable and open to violence at all levels,” it stated, adding that in “many places children have also witnessed extreme horrific violence”.
“A larger ground study of victims and data collection should be undertaken by the commissions,” the report said.