During her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is expected to raise the issue of attacks on TMC leaders and workers in Tripura in the run-up to the municipal polls on November 25.
A little over five months ago, another leader from West Bengal had approached the Prime Minister with a similar complaint of political violence. Except, the party in the dock was the TMC, and the complainant was Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari of the BJP.
While Tripura and West Bengal are no strangers to political violence, as captured by reports of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the intense rivalry between the BJP and TMC have deepened the crisis in the recent years.
On Monday, before leaving Kolkata, Mamata told reporters that apart from raising the issue of BSF’s territorial jurisdiction in Bengal, she will flag the recent “atrocities” in Tripura.
“Where have all the human rights organisations gone now?” Mamata said, in an apparent reference to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) committee that was set up on June 21 based on an order of the Calcutta High Court. Several families hit by post-poll violence had approached the Calcutta High Court in this regard. BJP leader Priyanka Tibrewal, who unsuccessfully contested the Bhawanipore bypolls against the TMC supremo, is one of the lawyers in the case.
While the NHRC committee had severely criticised the state government in its report and recommended CBI probe into the cases of murder and rape, the government hit back, alleging “bias”, and raised questions over the political affiliations of the members of the seven-member panel.
“…the members of the Committee have a close association with the Bhartiya Janata Party and/or the Central Government. I state that such members have been deliberately chosen who have an inherent bias against the ruling dispensation and accordingly predisposed to give a negative report against the state about the law-and-order situation in the state of West Bengal,” the Bengal government submitted in an affidavit to the HC.
Incidentally, the allegation of partisan state action also found mention in the memorandum TMC MPs submitted to Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday. The group of 17 MPs protested for around four hours outside North Block before meeting Shah at his residence.
“We are aware that law and order is a state subject, but if a party or government in any state violates Supreme Court orders and takes away the constitutional rights of opposition party to campaign in a local election, the Centre should look into the matter. The violence against TMC leaders and workers in Tripura by BJP workers and partisan action by the Tripura Police must stop,” stated the memorandum.
During his visit to Agartala on Monday, when TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee was asked by reporters about the post-poll situation in Bengal, he rejected the allegations, while pointing out that even the TMC has approached the NHRC over the incidents in Tripura. “We have written to the NHRC, but it will not take any action. Because it is controlled by an individual. Show me one footage of post-poll violence in Bengal that shows police stations, hospitals and journalists being attacked. Out state convener’s house has been attacked in Tripura. And the BJP has the gall to complain about post poll violence?” he said.