Which part of Kolkata witnessed political violence between 2 and 6 May? How many police complaints and FIRs related to incidents of political violence have been lodged? What steps have the police taken in the wake of those complaints? How many suspects have been arrested? Lalbazar, the headquarters of Kolkata Police, has sought answers to these questions from police stations across the capital city of West Bengal.
Under pressure from the Calcutta High Court that had, on 8 May, sought a report from the Mamata Banerjee government about the political violence wrecking the state since 2 May, the police headquarters soughy the information from all the police stations as to whether any victory procession of any political party came out after the announcement of the results of the assembly election ― violating the order of the Election Commission ― and what action was taken by the police against it.
According to police sources, Lalbazar had directed the police stations to send across a list of measures in the form of a report in the light of those questions by Sunday ― responding to which the police stations have sent a detailed report to Lalbazar on the last two days, beginning with reports from the day of counting of votes in their respective areas until 8 May.
Sources claim that Lalbazar is preparing a final report of political violence and police action in the area of jurisdiction of Kolkata Police. Sources said the strong stance of the Calcutta High Court on the post-poll political violence sprang the cops into action.
Meanwhile, Indic Collective, a media and pressure group, has moved the Supreme Court, seeking directions to the union government for action against the West Bengal government.
At the same time, petitioner Sushil Kumar Pandey, who runs an NGO for the oppressed, has approached the Calcutta High Court on behalf of the people of West Bengal who have been displaced from their home and hearth in fear of the alleged hooligans of the ruling party, seeking directions to the Mamata Banerjee government. Eminent lawyer J Sai Deepak, who spearheads the free temple movement, is a part of the battery of lawyers working on both the cases.
Today, a five-member special bench is hearing the case of the post-poll violence before Calcutta High Court.
Political violence has been raging across the state since the results were announced, with the opposition BJP claiming that as many as 18 of its workers have been killed by Trinamool Congress’s “goons” and many others have been grievously injured while some women have been raped. Many people are still homeless, hiding in jungles and even fleeing to Assam or sneaking into Bangladesh to save their lives.
There is another case before the high court, where the petition seeks intervention, alleging that the properties of workers of the opposition parties had been damaged over the past week in incidents of political violence.
However, allegations of political terrorism have not surfaced in Kolkata as frequently as in villages and suburban towns. In Kasba, Haridebpur, Patuli, Anandapur and Panchsair of Kolkata, the BJP had lodged a complaint alleging that their party supporters had been beaten and their houses vandalised. In Jadavpur earlier, Trinamool Congress’s men had allegedly launched an assault on people of 30 odd houses that had been identified as a “BJP pocket”.
Police claimed that there were several incidents of unrest in the city. “Police have taken swift action everywhere,” they said. Before the announcement of the election results, Lalbazar had instructed all police stations to be vigilant. Additional forces were deployed to prevent any clashes.
Besides, Lalbazar A-O said that the Election Commission had instructed, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, that no political party would hold a victory procession after the results of the polls were declared. Despite that, the Trinamool Congress came out with victory marches at several places. Police received such complaints too. Police stations, including the one in Sarsuna, have filed cases under certain sections for holding victory processions.