The ruling party members have enjoyed a sort of impunity in Bengal for decades. It was so during the Left regime, and more so in the TMC regime. But suddenly things have changed as the High Court has invited the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate post-poll violence cases.
And today, in a guest house at Haldia, the CBI summoned and interrogated Sheikh Sufian, Mamata Banerjee’s election agent for Nandigram constituency, in relation to a murder case. According to sources, an FIR is likely to be filed soon.
The CBI has already spoken to and questioned hundreds across the districts of Bengal and has filed more than 40 FIRs on these cases. But a leader like Sheikh Sufian, someone who enjoys close proximity with the Chief Minister, has not been summoned so far. The TMC leaders feel that the centre is using the CBI to break the organisational stronghold of the ruling party. The observers feel, if in the field of law and order parallel power is given to a central agency, then the sense of impunity will be gone, and that will harm the TMC the most.
That the TMC and the state government are seeing red over the situation is evident from the fact that they have moved the Supreme Court to nullify the High Court’s order. The Supreme Court has said it would hear the plea of the West Bengal government on September 20. Last Monday, a bench headed by Justice Vineet Saran adjourned the matter for a week and sought a complete chart of members of the inquiry committee.
The Calcutta High Court ordered CBI probe into post-poll violence in heinous cases of murder and rape. Till before the order, the Bengal government was in denial mode about it. Several Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were filed, including one by Priyanka Tibrewal who is now contesting against Mamata Banerjee in Bhabanipur assembly constituency, before the High Court. The petitioners pleaded for an investigation into the violence.
The BJP has alleged that hundreds had been subjected to assault and had to flee their houses in the days following the announcement of the results of the Bengal polls on May 2. English and Hindi TV channels traced in Assam some BJP workers who fled from Bengal. A National Human Rights Commission team enquired about the allegations and found many of those truths. After it submitted its report to the High Court, the latter ordered a CBI probe into cases of death and rape.
The CBI enquiry about post-poll violence has now emerged as the most major irritant for the TMC along with the central agency’s probe into cattle and coal smuggling in the state. In the post-poll violence case, the CBI has started interrogating junior officers of the Bengal police too.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)