Group of concerned citizens writes to President, seeks SIT probe into post-poll Bengal violence, handing over cases to NIA
New Delhi [India], May 24 : A forum of concerned citizens including former judges, senior civil and police services and ambassadors have sent a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking a SIT probe monitored by retired Supreme Court Judge into the post-poll violence in West Bengal and said these cases in the sensitive border state should be handed over to NIA to deal with the “anti-national onslaught on the culture and integrity of the country”.
The memorandum, signed by 17 former judges, 63 former civil servants, 10 former ambassadors and 56 former officers of armed forces, said the “shocking nature and degree of retributive violence” in West Bengal after the election results “is the negation of the fundamental principle that there is no place for violence in retention of power or change of power through a peaceful democratic process under the Constitution of India”. The results of assembly polls in the state were announced on May 2 and the Trinamool Congress returned to power.
The group of concerned citizens said the response of the state machinery, particularly of the police, in such a situation should have been spontaneous, protective and unfailingly public spirited, rising above any political influence to act in one way or another and alleged that the incidents reflected “state terror”.
“It is clear that the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths resulting from political violence were the result of what should be understood as serious acts of commission and omission of the law and order enforcement machinery of the state, or, in the worst case scenario, induced “state terror.Political violence is the bane of democratic values. These values must be preserved at all costs. Law and order is a state subject,” they said.
They sought intervention of the President, saying that post-poll violence in West Bengal should not be allowed to hit at the roots of Indian democratic values.
“We humbly seek the kind indulgence the President of India, with an earnest public spirited request to ensure that unabated post-election violence in the state of West Bengal is not allowed to hit at the roots of Indian democratic values, tarnishing Indian democracy and damaging it at the cost of our future generations. It is further requested that the culprits must be punished without exception – firstly, by identifying the public servants who failed to take any action and abandoned their duty; secondly, by identifying the political provocateurs; thirdly, cases should be registered in respect of all offences in the wake of violence; and finally, effectively proceeding against the actual offenders to bring them to justice,” the memorandum said.
“It is recommended that an SIT monitored by a retired Supreme Court Judge appointed by the Supreme Court of India should be formed for a fair investigation and speedy justice. Further, since West Bengal is a sensitive border state, we request that these cases should be handed over to NIA to deal with the anti-national onslaught on the culture and integrity of the country,” it added.
The group of concerned citizens said they were “greatly disturbed by the mindless instigation of reported violence in electoral vengeance against the people who exercised their democratic right to vote for one political party or the other”.
“Media reports, largely substantiated by eyewitness accounts, mention murders, rapes, attacks on persons and property, including by anti-national elements, leading to forced migration of people to shelter homes. These reports show unabated attacks after the results of the West Bengal state elections and deficient and inappropriate response of the local administration and police. These unfortunate developments, if unchecked, could establish a trend which will undermine and ultimately destroy the deep rooted democratic traditions of India. The state government as well as the institutions set up by the Constitution have the solemn constitutional duty to protect the life and liberty of the citizens which this political violence gravely undermines,” they said.
The group of concerned citizens said political violence is the bane of democratic values and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee must act in accordance with the Constitutional mandate to maintain law and order, curb violence with an iron hand and ensure peace and tranquillity amongst all sections of its people.
“The Centre must keep a close eye on the situation on the basis of the reports of the Governor in discharge of his constitutional obligations, reinforce the state’s law and order machinery by inducting sufficient number of CAPF personnel wherever and whenever necessary for peace and tranquility” they said.
The memorandum said that the media has widely reported that over a dozen persons, including women, have been killed in post-poll violence in the state.
“Over 15,000 incidents of violence have reportedly taken place. As per credible reports, out of 23 districts in West Bengal, 16 districts have been badly affected by violence. As a result, 4000 to 5000 people have reportedly migrated to Assam, Jharkhand and Orissa. A special relief package needs to be announced for the victims of violence, and all efforts should be made for their rehabilitation and provide them with full sense of security.
“Offences reportedly of rape, attempted rapes, and violating the modesty of women, targeting scheduled castes and tribes, and incidents of religious sacrilege are the worst manifestation of post-poll violence in West Bengal. According to our information, many offences have not been registered,” it said.
The memorandum said that democratic process provides for political change without violence, which, as a corollary, means that the retention of political power must eschew violence.
“Popularity should come from winning the hearts of the people and not shedding the blood of those who do not support any particular political group or party. The shocking nature and degree of retributive violence in West Bengal after the election results is the negation of the fundamental principle that there is no place for violence in retention of power or change of power through a peaceful democratic process under the Constitution of India,” it said.
The group of concerned citizens said they have unshakable belief in the greatness of Indian democracy and its sacred institutions, and are fully committed to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, build a robust economy and a healthy cohesive society infused with our millennia old culture and civilization.
The signatories include former ambassador Bhaswati Mukherjee, forme DGP of Maharashtra Praveen Dixit, Former Chief Justice Delhi High Court BC Patel, former foreign secretary Shashank, former RAW chief Sanjeev Tripathi, Lt Gen (retd) Vinod Chopra, Former Member CVC Sudhir Kumar and former Petroleum Secretary Saurabh Chandra.