“Send your wife Pinki to me for few days, then only we will allow you back in the village”, were the words of a local Trinamool Congress (AITC) leader, Muzaffar, to the husband of a Hindu Dalit BJP worker in the Minakhan assembly constituency, district North 24 Parganas, West Bengal.
Pinki Baj (BJP women’s wing treasurer in the area), her husband Sadhan Baj, and several other Hindus had fled from their Muslim-dominated village after Trinamool Congress’s workers unleashed a wave of post-poll violence in the days following the state election results declaration on 2 May.
Devdutta Maji, a BJP candidate who is the president of social organisation Singha Bahini, recorded the above video during a visit to the place where Pinki and some other Hindus from her village had taken refuge.
“Muslims attacked Hindu families in the village after the election results on 2 May,” said Pinki. “We all fled with just the clothes on our back. Later when I called local (Trinamool Congress) committee leader Muzaffar Baig, he said ‘send your wife first, then later you can come’,” told her husband Sadhan.
“We request Modi ji to protect us Hindus from the atrocities heaped on us by Muslims,” Pinki pleaded.
The district of North 24 Parganas has almost 26% Muslim population according to the 2011 census. As per our conversations with ground workers, this district has been one of the worst-affected by both pre and post-poll violence. Before the polls, it witnessed murders of BJP workers and leaders like Saikat Bhawal, Manish Shukla etc.
Then after polls, apart from general violence against Hindus, there were disturbing reports of sexual assaults and rape threats such as –
- Haroa, Basirhat, North 24 Parganas district: A BJP Mahila Morcha worker was stripped naked publicly, TMC goons then urinated on her palms and made her lick it.
- Sandeshkhali, Hingalganj, Minakha blocks, Basirhat subdivision, North 24 Parganas district: 20-23 women have left their homes because they were threatened with rape.
One lakh Hindus have reportedly been displaced and rendered homeless in the horrific violence that has shaken Bengal. Thousands have witnessed their homes ransacked and pillaged.
This follows the Sirf News report earlier in May where Muslim workers and supporters of the Trinamool Congress demanded jizya-like extortion money from Hindus in West Bengal.
Many gang-rapes and sexual assaults have been reported since 2 May, and now we have confirmation that Trinamool strongmen are also looking to sexually exploit Hindu women before allowing their families to resume normal lives. In all this, the West Bengal police is nowhere to be seen and is actually threatening and discouraging people from filing FIRs.
Apathy of Indian state
Meanwhile, the Kolkata High Court has said it is ‘satisfied’ with the Mamata Banerjee’s government handling of the situation. It has rejected the centre’s plea to set up an SIT (Special Investigation Team) to probe the violence.
Multiple pleas have been filed in Supreme Court over the violence. A plea was filed by legal NGO Indic Collective on 3 May, the day after the violence erupted, seeking directions for the deployment of central forces to restore law and order in the state. But the plea went unheard and the SC went for its summer vacation on 7 May.
NHRC and NCW teams also made on-ground visits a few days after the violence started, despite being actively discouraged by the Mamata government. While the NCW chairwoman did tweet about the disturbing situation on ground, neither commission has made their findings public as yet. The West Bengal governor though has made it clear that there is a complete break-down in law & order of the state, and he broke down into tears during a visit to a refugee camp for displaced victims.
Finally, a vacation bench of the Supreme Court agreed to hear a PIL on the post-poll violence. The plea stated:
“… police and the state-sponsored goons are in cahoots because of which the police proves to be a mere spectator in the entire episode, discouraging and threatening victims from filing FIRs…..there was no investigation of cases, inaction in incidents where cognizable offences have been committed in presence of police authorities and no provision of security to those facing threats to life.”
The plea sought immediate relief and long-term rehabilitation for internally displaced persons, a direction to the union government for deploying central armed forces to restore law and order and to discharge its duty under Article 355 of the Constitution, setting up of an alternative helpline number monitored by central forces to respond to SOS calls and record FIRs, and formation of an SIT, Inquiry Commission and fast-track courts to probe the violence and provide justice.
During a brief online hearing yesterday, the bench of Justices Vineet Saran and BR Gavai asked the Centre and West Bengal govt. to file their replies. The bench denied any interim relief to displaced people saying it “can’t act ex-parte and has to first hear both parties”.
The matter was listed for further hearing in the week starting 7 June.