KOLKATA: Of the nearly 2,000 complaints related to post-poll violence in West Bengal, around 69 per cent were reported from nine districts. According to the final report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) submitted to Calcutta High Court, of the 23 districts in the state, these nine bore most of the brunt.
Taking Bengal’s political landscape as the backdrop, an examination of these figures suggests that most of the violence took place in two kinds of places. One, districts in north Bengal where BJP did well in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and TMC was trying to wrest things back. Two, districts in southern Bengal which are TMC’s strongholds, where BJP was trying to make inroads by campaigning aggressively before this year’s Assembly polls.
The NHRC received 1,979 complaints, of which 322 were from north Bengal’s Cooch Behar. Four persons were killed in firing by the Central forces on election day in this district. In south Bengal, the Commission received 314 complaints from Birbhum, 203 from South 24 Parganas, 196 from North 24 Parganas and 113 from East Burdwan districts.
“A large number of complaints have been received from the administrative districts of Cooch Behar, Birbhum, Purba Bardhaman, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Kolkata. The most affected police districts are Baruipur, Basirhat, Barrackpore and Diamond Harbour (all in south Bengal),’’ said the report prepared following a court order.
Political analysts found that post-poll violence was a fallout of attempts to regain and retain by both the parties. “In many areas in south Bengal, the ruling party saw BJP as its immediate threat which might upset its strongholds. Similarly in north Bengal, TMC tried to regain its erstwhile citadel and BJP was desperate to retain its newfound base,” said political science professor Bishnupriya Dutta Gupta.
BJP, predictably, points finger at the ruling party. “TMC unleashed terror after failing to re-establish its dominance in Cooch Behar. The police firing was a result of the terror unleashed by them. When they failed to deal with us in a democratic way, their supporters launched unprecedented violence on our supporters and party workers,’’ said BJP’s general secretary Sayantan Basu.
He alleged that TMC adopted the strategy of spreading terror in south Bengal districts also, like Birbhum, South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas, realising that BJP was making inroads in these places. “They know that in coming elections, people’s verdict will go in favour of BJP. This is why they attacked our workers, to ensure that there is no political activity of BJP,’’ said Basu.
Districts like Murshidabad and Malda reported negligible post-poll violence because the region is dominated by minority electorates. BJP has little presence there and neither did it make a concerted effort to make inroads in those places.
Predictably again, TMC has dismissed the NHRC report as biased. “It’s nothing other than a body representing BJP. A few incidents of post-poll violence took place before Mamata Banerjee was sworn in as chief minister, when the model of code of conduct was in place and Election Commission was in charge of law and order in the state. The Commission transferred administrative officials appointed by the chief minister and the violence is a fallout of their inefficiency,’’ said TMC MP and spokesperson Saugata Roy.