Calcutta high court orders CBI probe into West Bengal post-poll violence – Hindustan Times

Kolkata News

In what comes as a major setback for the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, the Calcutta high court on Thursday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the allegations of post-poll violence in the state. A seven-member committee set up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had earlier looked into the incidents of violence following the West Bengal assembly elections and recommended a court-monitored CBI probe.

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CBI will probe the allegations of murder and rape, raised shortly after the overwhelming victory of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) against rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in these elections. According to people familiar with the development, the Calcutta high court also directed that a separate Special Investigation Team (SIT), with senior officers from the West Bengal cadre, be set up to probe the other allegations cited by the NHRC committee.

This SIT will comprise three IPS officers — Soumet Mitra, Suman Bala Sahoo, and Ranbir Kumar. The proceedings shall be monitored by a retired judge of the Supreme Court; a detailed order regarding this will be issued later, the Calcutta high court said.

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The West Bengal government should hand over all records of cases to the CBI for the investigation, the Calcutta high court said, adding that it will be a “court-monitored investigation” and that any obstruction during the course of the probe by anyone shall be “viewed seriously”.

Post-poll violence reportedly broke out in West Bengal following the announcement of the assembly election results on May 2. It was alleged that the Trinamool Congress (TMC), which won with an overwhelming majority in the poll results, turned a blind eye when its supporters clashed with the opposing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers at various places in the state.

After several BJP leaders raised alarm over a “complete breakdown” of law and order, the Union ministry of home affairs deputed a four-member team to visit the areas reported to have witnessed post-poll violence. The Calcutta high court eventually took cognizance of the matter and asked the NHRC to examine all the cases of alleged violence.

The seven-member committee submitted its final report on July 13, slamming the Trinamool Congress-led state government, while recommending a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe. The state government later filed an affidavit, refuting the charges while alleging that the report was politically motivated.