The Calcutta High Court on Friday issued a contempt notice to Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Kolkata) Rashid Munir Khan, asking why proceedings should not be initiated against him for failing to protect the National Human Rights Commission team investigating the post-poll violence in West Bengal, Live Law reported.
Atif Rasheed, vice-chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities and a member of the NHRC panel, had alleged that some people chased and attacked him when he visited Jadavpur on June 29 to inquire into the violence, according to The Hindu.
Despite informing the district magistrate about their visit, the NHRC team told the court that no police protection was given to them.
A five-judge bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal said this was in violation of the court’s June 18 order asking all concerned authorities to provide logistical support to the panel to ensure that there was no obstruction in the investigation.
The bench, also comprising Justices IP Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar, issued a notice to district magistrates and superintendents of police in certain districts, which were affected by the violence after the polls, Bar and Bench reported.
During Friday’s hearing, the court directed the West Bengal Police to register cases based on the recommendations of the NHRC. However, the interim report was not made public.
On June 30, the committee submitted a brief report to the High Court and sought more time to visit all violence-affected areas for a comprehensive document. The report was submitted in a sealed envelope and the High Court has refused to disclose the contents or share a copy of it with the state government counsel.
The court asked the West Bengal government to provide proper medical treatment to those injured in the incidents. It also ordered authorities to conduct a second autopsy on Bharatiya Janata Party worker Avijit Sarkar, who was allegedly killed by the Trinamool Congress members during the clashes.
The matter will be heard next on July 13.
West Bengal had witnessed a spell of violent incidents following Assembly election results on May 2. The BJP and the ruling 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.
On June 18, the High Court had directed the NHRC to set up the seven-member committee to probe the matter. NHRC chairperson Justice (Retired) Arun Mishra had set up the committee on June 21. On the same day, the High Court bench refused to recall its order asking the rights body to examine complaints. The West Bengal government had urged the court to recall or modify its order.
The Supreme Court has also issued a notice to the Centre, the Election Commission of India and the West Bengal government on a petition seeking a Special Investigation Team inquiry into the violence. The petitioner, advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, alleged that Trinamool Congress supporters had raped women and looted the belongings of Hindus “for the simple reason that they had supported BJP” in the polls.