NHRC panel invokes Tagore indicts Mamata govt over post-poll violence

    (Eds: Coalesces related stories)
    Kolkata, Jul 15 (PTI) The situation prevailing in West
Bengal is a manifestation of "law of the ruler" and not "rule
of law", the NHRC panel probing alleged post-poll violence in
the state has said in a damning indictment of the Mamata
Banerjee government, and recommended CBI investigation in
cases of rape and murder.
    A livid Banerjee promptly hit back, accusing the
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of pursuing BJP's
"political vendetta" and claiming the report was "leaked".
    The NHRC panel, constituted following an order by a
five-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court, also said the
cases of alleged rape and murder be tried outside the state.
    "The committee has recommended that grievous offences
like murder, rape, etc should be handed over to the CBI for
investigation and these cases should be tried outside the
state," the report, submitted to the court in sealed covers on
June 13, said.
    "The situation in the State of West Bengal is a
manifestation of 'Law of Ruler' instead of 'Rule of Law," the
report of the seven-member committee said, as it highlighted
"appalling apathy" of the government towards the plight of
    After the report was submitted on Tuesday, the court
had directed that its soft copies along with annexures be
supplied to the counsel for the petitioners, the Election
Commission, and the Additional Solicitor General of India.
    Banerjee, however, cried foul and claimed the report
was leaked to the media by the rights panel.
    She also said the NHRC team did not consult the state
government or take into account its views.
    "The BJP is now using impartial agencies to settle
political scores and malign our state. The NHRC should have
respected the court. Instead of leaking the findings to the
media, it should have first submitted the same to the court.
    "What would you call it other than political vendetta
of the BJP? It is yet to digest defeat (in the assembly polls)
and that is why the party is resorting to such tricks," she
told a press conference.
    A clutch of PILs filed before the court had alleged
people were assaulted, forced to flee their homes and their
properties destroyed in post-election violence.
    A five-judge bench headed by Acting Chief Justice
Rajesh Bindal had directed the NHRC chairman on June 18 to
constitute a committee to examine all cases of alleged human
rights violation during the violence that lasted several days.
    "This was retributive violence by supporters of the
ruling party against supporters of the main opposition party,"
the NHRC panel said in the report.
    "It is indeed ironical that, in the land of Rabindra
Nath Tagore, 'Where the mind is without fear and the head is
held high; where the world has not been broken up into
fragments by narrow domestic walls'; thousands of its citizens
have been subjected to murder, rape, displacement and
intimidation, etc. in the last couple of months," it noted.
    The report also spoke of government machinery being
used to further the objectives of the party in power.
     "This may well be death knell for democracy in this
great nation. It is high time that the rot is stemmed and this
trend is reversed in the interest of having a vibrant
democracy in this nation," the committee said in the
strongly-worded 50-page report.
    It warned that if the worrisome trend was not checked
the "disease" may spread to other states also.
    Maintaining that the acts of violence resulted in
disruption of life and livelihood of thousands of people and
their "economic strangulation", the report said, "The local
police has been grossly derelict, if not complicit, in this
    Holding that violence and intimidation has continued,
the report said that there is palpable "fear among victims
against police and goons of ruling party."
    It said that many displaced persons have not yet been
able to return to their homes and resume their normal life and
    "There have been several sexual offences but victims
are scared to speak out. Loss of faith in state administration
among victims is very evident," the report noted.
    The panel said neither senior officers nor political
leaders condemned the violence, visited the spots, assuaged
the victims or did anything substantive to ameliorate the
    "People were left on their own to protect the
violation of their human and fundamental rights, including
right to life, liberty, dignified living and health," the
committee said, as it held reponsible "a pernicious politico-
bureaucratic-criminal nexus" for the violence.
    The seven-member panel recommended constituting a
committee headed by a retired judge to monitor the
implementation of the orders of the high court. The committee
should have independent officers as observers in each of the
affected districts.
    It suggested that barring the grievous cases like rape
and murder, which should be handed over to the CBI, others be
probed by a court-monitored SIT. The trials, it said, should
be conducted in fast track courts and witnesses given adequate
    The recommendations included ex-gratia payment,
compensation for damage to property, rehabilitation of the
victims, protection to women, static pickets of central forces
and action against delinquent government servants.
    Several teams under the seven-member committee headed
by Rajiv Jain visited 311 spots across the state in 20 days
before compiling the report.
    The panel received around 1,979 complaints about over
15,000 victims from various sources including the NHRC itself,
West Bengal Legal Services Authority, WB Human Rights
Commission, National Commission for Women and petitions filed
in courts. PTI AMR PNT RMS RBT

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)