The Central Bureau of Investigation has so far filed nine cases in connection with the post-poll violence in West Bengal, PTI reported on Thursday, citing officials.
West Bengal witnessed a spell of incidents of violence following the Assembly election results on May 2. The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamool Congress blamed each other for the deaths of multiple party workers. Various news reports put the toll between 11 and 14, but the police did not confirm the numbers.
The Central Bureau of Investigation took up the matter following an order by the Calcutta High Court on August 19. The High Court had asked the central agency to investigate allegations of murder, rape and crimes against women in connection with the violence. For other cases, the High Court had constituted a Special Investigation Team involving police officers from the state.
The Central Bureau of Investigation is also in the process of registering more cases related to the violence, unidentified officials told PTI. They also said that four special units of the Central Bureau of Investigation have gone from Kolkata to crime scenes across West Bengal.
“Statements of the victims are being recorded,” an official told The Hindu. “Based on the information provided by the state police, more cases are expected to be registered in due course.”
The central agency’s teams investigating the cases are headed by officers of the rank of Joint Director, India Today reported. Each team also comprises a Deputy Inspector General, Senior Superintendent of Police and three Superintendent Police.
West Bengal post-poll violence
On June 18, the Calcutta High Court had directed the National Human Rights Commission of India to set up a seven-member committee to investigate the matter. The NHRC submitted its report on July 13, recommending that cases of “heinous crimes” be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The committee had alleged that the police were “grossly derelict, if not complicit” in the violence, according to PTI. However, the state government, in an affidavit, had alleged that the committee was formed to “spearhead a witch hunt” against it. It also alleged that members of the committee were either associated with the BJP or had a close connection with the central government.
During a subsequent hearing, the court had criticised the West Bengal government, saying it had failed to properly investigate the violence.
In its August 19 judgement, the High Court had said that it will monitor the inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Special Investigation Team. A five-judge bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal had pronounced three separate but concurring verdicts.
Bindal, in his lead judgement, noted there were “definite and proved allegations” that complaints filed by some victims were not registered. “Such types of incidents, even if isolated are not good for healthy democracy,” he added.