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Post-poll violence: NHRC team ‘fraught with bias’, TMC government tells Calcutta HC

The government submitted the affidavit on Monday. It alleged that the members of the NHRC probe team share close ties with BJP leaders.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
July 28, 2021 7:45:58 am
The government said its “final thoughts” on the report were that it contains statements that are “sweeping homilies, absurd, and false”. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

In a 95-page affidavit submitted to the Calcutta High Court on post-poll violence in West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government has alleged that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) committee that probed the matter “was fraught with bias against the ruling dispensation”.

The government submitted the affidavit on Monday. It alleged that the members of the NHRC probe team share close ties with BJP leaders. In its final report to the court on July 13, the NHRC team claimed that “the situation in the state is a manifestation of the law of ruler instead of rule of law”, and recommended CBI probe into “grievous offences like murder and rape”.

The report strongly criticised the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government for allegedly failing to stem the violence that erupted after its emphatic victory in the Assembly polls. The TMC secured a landslide mandate, bagging 213 of the 292 seats for which polling was held in eight phases. The BJP won just 77 seats.

The state government said in the affidavit, “The formation of the committee and the purported field teams are fraught with bias against the ruling dispensation in the State of West Bengal. I state that the members of the Committee have a close association with the Bhartiya Janta Party and/or the Central Government. I state that such members have been deliberately chosen who have an inherent bias against the ruling dispensation and accordingly predisposed to give a negative report against the state about the law-and-order situation in the state of West Bengal.”

A five-judge bench of the High Court headed by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal will hear the matter again on Wednesday.

“Several members of the Committee are either members of the Bharatiya Janata Party or are known to be closely associated with the ruling dispensation in the Central Government. Therefore, the credibility of the Committee inasmuch as they are expected to investigate in an unbiased and neutral manner is questionable. I state that any report provided by those who are in close association with the political party at variance with the party in power in the State Government ought not to be relied upon by this Hon’ble Court,” read the
affidavit.

The state government said the committee’s head, Rajiv Jain, had served as the director of the Intelligence Bureau under the incumbent BJP government at the Centre.

He was the subsidiary Intelligence Bureau chief in Ahmedabad from 2005 to 2008, when “Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat and Amit Shah a minister”, the affidavit explained.

The state government also mentioned that another member, Atif Rasheed, was a former president of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) students’ union in Satyawati College and contested the Delhi Municipal elections in 2021 on a BJP ticket.

“From the aforesaid, it will be evident that the committee has been deliberately constituted to spearhead a witch hunt against the entire state machinery in West Bengal. Though the chairperson of the NHRC was expected to form a non-partisan and fair committee, the said chairperson has abused the process of this Hon’ble Court and has appointed only those members who are interested in conducting a hatchet job against a democratically elected government,” the TMC government said.

The affidavit went on to add, “The committee has breached the trust reposed on them by this Hon’ble Court and has approached the enquiry with a predetermined conclusion/recommendation. Members of the Committee have converted this enquiry into a political theater for their own personal political benefit.”

Claiming that the state government was not given an opportunity to be heard, the affidavit said the NHRC “report ought not to be considered by this honourable court”. It added, “The Report gives the impression that post-poll violence is going on unabated since the declaration of results on 2 May 2021. This impression is totally false and the reality is starkly different. After declaration of results on 2 May 2021, some incidents of violence have occurred. But since the new Government has taken over on 5 May 2021, the number of incidents have drastically reduced and at present the number of incidents taking place are almost non-existent.”

The government said its “final thoughts” on the report were that it contains statements that are “sweeping homilies, absurd, and false”.

State Transport Minister Firhad Hakim said, “The central government has grabbed the NHRC and appointed people there having close ties with the BJP. Therefore it has submitted a false and fabricated report against the state government.”

Countering the state government, BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said, “The state is failing to bring out real facts on the incidents of post-poll violence and that’s why it is targeting the NHRC committee. They are indulging in revenge politics. The NHRC report is based on a report filed by police and DGP. I dare the state government to deny that people did not die in post-poll violence if they are not satisfied with the NHRC report.”

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