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NHRC panel to probe post-poll violence in West Bengal a whitewash?

The NHRC is, however, unlikely to make any progress in fact-finding, given that NCM's Atif Rasheed and WBSHRC's PK Panja are its constituents

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has formed a seven-member committee to probe complaints of post-poll violence in West Bengal, in accordance with the orders of the Calcutta High Court.

Composition of NHRC team

The team is unlikely to make any progress in fact-finding, as the accused parties are Muslims and workers of the ruling Trinamool Congress and yet the body comprises National Commission for Minorities vice-chairperson Atif Rasheed and West Bengal State Human Rights Commission registrar Pradip Kumar Panja among others.

Jizya: Pay or die, Muslims tell Hindus in Bengal

NHRC member Rajeev Jain heads the panel. National Commission for Women member Rajulben L Desai is in the team too.

The full NHRC team:

1. Rajiv Jain, Member, NHRC, head of the Committee.

2. Atif Rasheed, Vice Chairperson, National Commission for Minorities.

3. Rajulben L. Desai, Member, National Commission for Women.

4. Santosh Mehra, Director (Investigation), NHRC.

5. Pradip Kumar Panja, Registrar, West Bengal State Human Rights Commission.

6. Raju Mukherjee, Member Secretary, West Bengal State Legal Services Authority.

7. Manzil Saini, DIG (Investigation), NHRC.

As per the directions of the high court, the NHRC team will examine all cases of post-poll violence in West Bengal, complaints for which have already been received in the NHRC “or which may be received”, says the body’s website.

The NHRC team will examine also the complaints that the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority has received and further complaints that the Legal Services Authority might have received.

“The cases shall be examined, including by visiting the affected areas and shall submit a comprehensive report to the Calcutta High Court about the present situation and also steps to be taken to ensure confidence of the people that they can peacefully live in their houses and also carry on their occupation or business to earn their livelihood,” the NHRC website says.

The panel will trace people prima facie responsible for crime and the officers who maintained calculated silence on the issue, the website says.

Earlier on 21 June, the Calcutta High Court dismissed the West Bengal government’s plea for recalling its order that directed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to examine all cases of alleged human rights violations in post-poll violence in the state.

A five-judge bench of the high court dismissed the prayer of the West Bengal government for recalling the order passed in respect of a bunch of PILs alleging displacement of people from their residences, physical assault, destruction of property and ransacking of places of business owing to post-election violence in the state.

The bench had passed the order on 18 June, taking note of a report submitted by the member secretary of West Bengal State Legal Services Authority which said that 3,243 people were reported to be affected till noon of 10 June.

The five-judge bench, comprising acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and justices IP Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar, had in its order directed the chairperson of the NHRC to constitute a committee to examine the matter.

Governor slams ‘ostrich-like stance’

West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has called the situation arising out of the alleged post-poll violence in the state “alarming and worrisome”. The governor questioned chief minister Mamata Banerjee for her “ostrich-like stance” on the issue.

Dhankhar, who embarked on a week-long visit to North Bengal earlier in the day, slammed the state government for how it dealt with complaints of violence following the assembly elections. “I am worried about the post-poll violence happening in West Bengal after 2 May. This is unacceptable. The situation in the state is alarming and worrisome. This kind of violence has put a question mark on the democratic setup.

“Even after so many weeks, the state government is in denial mode. Why is the chief minister silent on this issue? The ostrich-like stance of the state administration is not acceptable,” the governor said.

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