Kolkata/New Delhi: Following the communal incidents of Dhulagarh, Howrah, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had claimed that nothing untoward had happened in the said town. In the face of mounting evidence, she had then stated that she would deal with any instance of communal violence strictly. When she warned her MLAs Sheetal Sardar and Gulshan Malik of dire consequences if they escalated the situation, it created an impression she would honour her words. It now transpires that she made every effort to suppress the complaints of victims.
Colonel D Chowdhury, who runs an NGO Swadhikar Bangla Foundation, had sought an intervention from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) at that point of time. Following this, the NHRC asked for an explanation from the chief secretary of West Bengal and Director General of Police of the State on 30 January this year. If the response of the DG is bona fide, the claim of the chief minister that “nothing had happened” in Dhulagarh couldn’t have been true.
The commission had gathered from various sources that on 13 December 2016, Muslims wielding firearms and crude bombs had taken out a procession in Dhulagarh, raising anti-India slogans all the way. It took the shape of a mob that demolished 128 houses; 85 Hindu families had been rendered homeless that day.
After delaying its response under different pretexts, the State government said to the NHRC finally on 9 March that it needed 2 more months to prepare its answer. However, the response arrived on 20 April.
The DG’s report says that 63 miscreants were arrested from Dhulagarh and adjoining areas, and that the police were on a lookout for other rioters. It also said that officers with special charges had been posted in communally sensitive areas. In the charge sheets 1028/16, 1032/16 and 1033/16, a total of 141 anti-social elements were named for their involvement in riots. Satisfied by the report, the NHRC closed the file of Col Chowdhury’s complaint.