The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took suo motu notice on Thursday of media claims that eight people were burned to death in West Bengal's Birbhum area after a TMC leader was killed in a bomb attack.
The assassination of a deputy pradhan in Bogtui village in West Bengal's Birbhum district on Monday evening resulted in the burning of at least eight houses in the region, killing eight people, including women and children.
According to the NHRC's press release, the Commission has sent notices to West Bengal's Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, requesting a detailed report on the matter within four weeks, including the status of the FIRs filed, steps taken to ensure the safety of the people in the village, and any relief or rehabilitation provided by the state government.
In issuing the notices, the Commission also said that, based on media accounts, the occurrence of hate violence suggests that law and order in the region is not acceptable.
"According to the media reports, the doctors at Rampurhat Government Hospital, where the bodies were taken for post-mortem, stated that the condition of the bodies made their work very difficult. It is further stated that the presence of blood suggests that the victims were first physically attacked and then the houses were put on fire," the press release averred further.
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday reserved its decision in the suo moto case filed in connection with the Rampurhat violence in Birbhum district. The case diary produced by the State investigating authorities relevant to the ongoing investigation was also taken into consideration by a Bench consisting of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj. The Court had already ordered the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Delhi to immediately visit the crime scene and gather all essential material for forensic examination.
On Thursday, the Advocate General informed the Court that, in accordance with the Court's previous orders, 31 CCTV cameras had been erected at the crime scene, as well as several confidence-building measures. In addition, the Court was informed that witness protection had been extended.
ABOUT THE INCIDENT
Bhadu Sheikh, a TMC leader and deputy pradhan in West Bengal's Birbhum district, was allegedly killed on Monday evening when four persons riding motorcycles tossed a crude bomb at him. Sheikh was brought to the Rampurhat block government hospital, but died en route.
Violence erupted in Rampurhat shortly after his death, when a mob allegedly locked up 10-12 houses with residents inside and set them on fire, killing eight people, including women and children.
According to reports, two FIRs have been filed, one for the murder of deputy pradhan Bhadu Sheikh and the other for the attack on the houses. In the second case, eleven persons have been arrested.
The State government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the violence, which will be led by the assistant director general of police (CID), Gyanwant Singh. The in-charge of Rampurhat police station, as well as the Sub Divisional Police Officer, has been removed from active policing duty.
The incident sparked a public spat between the TMC and the BJP. BJP MLAs also staged a walkout inside the West Bengal Legislative Assembly over the matter.
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar described the death of eight persons in Rampurhat as "horrific," saying it shows the state is engulfed in a culture of "violence and lawlessness." The Governor said he has instructed the state chief secretary to offer him an update on the incident as soon as possible, urging the police to handle the situation professionally.
According to reports, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday met the families of the victims and announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for rebuilding the scorched homes. Promising jobs to ten families affected by the violence, Banerjee added that she would ensure "speedy justice".