Wednesday 19 January 2022
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CBI begins probing Bengal electoral violence, registers 9 cases

The Calcutta High Court had earlier this month directed a court-monitored CBI probe into the incidents of post-poll violence in West Bengal

Executing the order of the Calcutta High Court, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today began its investigation into the post-election violence — where BJP alleges the Trinamool Congress was the perpetrator — in West Bengal and registered nine cases. 

Sources said the moved its team from Kolkata to one of the spots of the pogrom that erupted following the 2 May announcement of assembly election results.

The high court had earlier in August directed a monitored probe into the incidents of post-poll violence in the state. The court had directed the Trinamool Congress government to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the cases related to violence.

The court had observed that the West Bengal Government’s argument that the Election Commission was responsible as the police were under the commission’s watch owing to the enforcement of the election code till 3 May 2021 deserved “to be rejected outrightly (sic)”.

“Civil or police administration is under the control of the Election Commission during election process only to ensure free & fair elections. That does not mean that the police stop discharging its normal duties to control law and order,” the high court said in its verdict.

A part of the special team, 25 officers have been divided into four teams (each will be headed by a joint director) to investigate the alleged rape and murder cases. The court will monitor the probe.

“All cases of murder and crimes of rape should be given to for investigation,” a five-judge bench led by acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal had said on Thursday. The court has asked the central agency to file a report in the next six weeks.

For other cases, the court ordered an SIT to investigate. The SIT comprises officers Director General (Telecommunications) Suman Bala Sahoo, Kolkata Police Commissioner Soumen Mitra and Ranveer Kumar.

Several Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were filed before the high court, alleging that workers of the ruling party and Muslims in pockets where they are the majority lynched, raped and ousted Hindus, suspecting them to be all voters of the BJP.

The court had asked the National Human Commission (NHRC) to conduct an inquiry. NHRC in its report had indicated, “This was retributive violence by supporters of the ruling party against supporters of the main opposition party.”

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the state DGP, had claimed during submissions that the NHRC report is biased as NHRC panels had links with the state opposition party BJP.

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