KOLKATA: A five-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court, taking cognizance of a PIL that claimed life and liberty of people in Bengal are in danger owing to post-poll violence, asked the state government on Friday to file an affidavit in three days, apprising it of the present law and order situation.
The bench directed advocate general for the state, Kishore Dutta, to specify in the affidavit the names of areas where violence broke out, and the steps taken to prevent or control the same.
The PIL would be heard again on May 10.
It was initially taken up by a division bench — comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee — which then referred it to a larger bench for hearing after lunch recess.
“Considering the importance (of the PIL) where life and liberty of the people in the state of West Bengal is at stake”, a larger bench comprising five judges was constituted to hear the plea.
Petitioner Anindya Sundar Das, also a lawyer, has claimed in his plea that lives of people were in danger owing to alleged inaction of the state police force.
A four-member team of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), tasked with looking into reasons for the post-poll violence in West Bengal, on Thursday held a meeting with top state government officials and visited families affected by the skirmishes, sources said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that 16 people have lost their lives in post-poll violence in various parts of the state.
The BJP has alleged that TMC-backed goons have killed a number of its workers, attacked women members, vandalised houses and looted shops.
Rejecting the charges, Banerjee said that violence and clashes were taking place in those areas where saffron party candidates emerged victorious in the assembly polls.
Led by an additional secretary of the MHA, the team visited the state secretariat and held over an hour-long meeting with the chief secretary, home secretary and the director general of police, officials said.
To assess the ground situation, the central team also visited places in South 24 Parganas district’s Sonarpur and Bhatpara in North 24 Parganas district, which witnessed post- poll violence.
In Sonarpur, the team members spoke to family members of Haran Adhikari, who was killed in the violence, and local people, sources in the state police said.
Afterwards, the team went to Bhatpara and took stock of the situation following the incidents of violence, they added.
On Friday, the team would call on Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and seek a report on the post-poll violence, officials said.
The MHA has asked Dhankar to give a report on the law and order situation in the state, particularly the violence that took place following the election results on May 2.
The ministry had earlier asked the state government to submit a detailed report on the violence, but is yet to receive it, officials said.
The ministry had on Wednesday sent a terse reminder to the West Bengal government to submit the report.
Senior Trinamool Congress leader Firhad Hakim hit out at the Centre for sending teams instead of COVID-19 vaccines.
“They should send vaccines first, that’s the responsibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We are grieved that some people have died, and action will be taken against the culprits.”
“But, what will happen to the inoculation process which is stalled because of the vaccine crisis?” Hakim said.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan’s car was attacked at Panchkuri village in Paschim Medinipur district on Thursday while he was visiting the area in connection with alleged assault on saffron party workers after the election.
Muraleedharan claimed in a tweet that the “TMC goons” were behind the attack on his convoy.
The chief minister, without naming anyone, said that some central ministers are going to villages after the elections are over and accused them of instigating violence.
Meanwhile, senior TMC leader Udayan Guha was injured in an attack allegedly by BJP activists at Dinhata in Cooch Behar district on Thursday.
A 22-year-old man died on Wednesday night after alleged TMC workers assaulted him in Purba Bardhaman district when he tried to save his father from their attack on the night of May 4, police said on Thursday.