Amid reports of post-poll violence emerging from various parts of the state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said such incidents cannot be tolerated and alleged that there was more disturbance in areas where the Bharatiya Janata Party won seats, reported ANI.
She also accused the BJP of circulating fake incidents of violence by using old videos. “My appeal to all political parties is to stop this,” she said. “You all have done a lot during elections. Bengal is a place of unity.”
Banerjee made the comments after the Trinamool Congress came under question, as the Opposition accused the party of attacking their members since the results for Assembly elections were declared on May 2. The BJP has alleged that “more than nine” of its members have been killed, while the Indian Secular Front has claimed that one its members lost his life due to post-poll violence. The Trinamool Congress too has said that four members of the party were killed in the clashes since the results.
Earlier in the day, the chief minister said that it was a priority for her to handle the situation, News18 reported. She made the comments after taking oath as chief minister of the state for the third time.
Banerjee implied that the violence was because the state was under the control of the Election Commission for the past few months. “There was a lot of inefficiency in the state system during this time,” Banerjee said. “I will set up a new police system today itself and tackle the violence with utmost firmness.”
She made an appeal to all political parties to refrain from violence and said that she will post special officers to deal with the situation.
On the violence, the police have pointed out that in at least one instance, fake news related to the disturbance was spread.
“Since yesterday news of rape of two women and molestation of some other women in Nanoor is being circulated on social media,” Birbhum district Superintendent of Police NN Tripathi told The Indian Express. “We verified and also spoke to local BJP leaders. They are unaware of any such incident. I inform everyone that it’s fake news. We have been receiving a lot of complaints of small incidents. We are taking action.”
Several BJP leaders, including MP Swapan Dasgupta, who was also a candidate in the Assembly elections from Tarakeswar constituency, have shared posts on social media about the fake report. Dasgupta, in his tweet, also claimed that “more than a thousand Hindu families” were under attack, even though the police have not said anything on the violence being on communal lines.
Nonetheless, the reports of violence have cast a shadow on Banerjee’s thumping victory in the recently-concluded Assembly elections. On Tuesday, she held an emergency meeting with top state officials, The Indian Express reported. “Banerjee is very worried about the situation as she fears it will tarnish her win if it goes out of control,” an unidentified police official told the newspaper. “She shared some videos with the chief secretary and asked him to verify if these were fake and accordingly take action.”
This was after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar to express “serious anguish and concern” on the reported incidents. Dhankhar himself has been tweeting since Monday, expressing his concern on the matter.
“Such senseless violence shames democracy,” he tweeted on Wednesday. “Such collapse of law and order will neither be overlooked nor countenanced.”
The National Human Rights Commission on Tuesday ordered a spot inquiry after taking suo motu cognisance of the matter, according to PTI. National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma also tweeted on Wednesday saying she will reach Kolkata and meet the victims soon. Earlier, the Union home ministry had also sought a report from the state government.
On Sunday, the Trinamool Congress emerged victorious after the country’s longest-ever Assembly elections, held in eight phases amid the massive rise in Covid-19 infections in the country. The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress won 213 seats – way beyond the majority mark of 148. The Bharatiya Janata Party managed to secure only 77 constituencies.