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Violence in West Bengal: An act of fascism

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The post poll violence that took place in West Bengal is surely a threat to Indian Democracy. Here are the horrific events that that took place in West Bengal post election results.

From the night of Sunday, i.e. 2nd May 2021, widespread post poll violence was reported, in print as well as electronic media (including social media) from different parts of the State of West Bengal. Reports of arson, looting of shops, burning of houses, rapes, murders, brutal attack on individuals, destruction of moveable and immoveable properties and onslaughts by antisocial elements came to light through media, largely substantiated by eyewitness accounts. It is noteworthy that in most of the incidents, the leaders, followers, field-level functionaries, voters, family members belonging to a particular political party were targeted.

According to Reports, more than 25 persons including women were murdered, over 15000 incidents of violence took place, 7000 women were molested, 16 districts out of 26 districts in the State were badly affected, a large number of people fearing death and further attacks migrated to neighbouring States of Assam, Jharkhand and Odisha. Violence continued unabated even many days after 2nd May 2021, and was turned into attacks by individual criminals.

The findings of violence in West Bengal that will shock the nation:
1. Magnitude and reach of the post-poll violence touched many villages and towns all across the State simultaneously beginning from the night of 2nd May 2021. This is a clear indication that most of the incidents are not sporadic but premeditated, organised and conspiratorial.

2. The fact that some of the hardened criminals, mafia dons and criminal gangs, who were already in the police records, led and carried the deadly attacks unhindered reveals that there is clear political patronage even before the elections and same being used to silence the political rivals. 

3. The incidents of targeted destruction and vandalization of properties, residential and commercial, have a sole purpose to deprive the livelihoods and choking the victims economically. The worst-affected people are those who depend on day-to-day work or business, who are pushed into financial degradation and unmitigated misery.

4. In most of the cases, victims were afraid to lodge a complaint with the police either due to fear of reprisal or due to the lack of faith in the police. Those victims who gathered courage to went to received police were either turned away to settle the matter with the culprits or flat refusal to register the case. Many people left to fend themselves leaving their homes and villages to safer destinations, to shelter camps within and outside the State.

5. Forcibly taking away Aadhar cards, ration cards, demanding a written undertaking on not to support a particular political party, demanding for ransom and protection money (called tolabazi) to return to workplace or for reclaiming lands or for rebuilding the houses, removal from contractual employment and all such incidents are basically to instill a lasting political impact and fear psychosis at large.

6. The targeting of people from Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes, Women, Children and other vulnerable sections of society reflects the deep-rooted malaise that had set in the system.

7. Although the count on exact number of casualties, grievous injuries, extent of damage to property is yet to be known fully, the lumpenisation of public life nurtured and protected through powerful lobbies at every level is very clear.

8. The intensity and spread of post-poll violence could have been halted or controlled if the administration and police had acted in time. The assessment of ground situation reveals that no adequate or reasonable measures were taken, knowingly or unknowingly. 

9. The fact that thousands of victims ran helter-skelter leaving their homes and villages to faraway places, wherever they felt safe and secure inside and outside the State is a sad reality.  

Disclaimer: Disturbing Image

It is pertinent to notice that elections were held in five states— West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry. Despite abundant precaution in conducting eight-phase polling in West Bengal, there was an unprecedented and wide-spread post-poll violence that raises fundamental questions on concept and practice of good governance and able administration. It is a fact that political party that won majority of seats in Legislative Assembly had been ruling the State for past ten years. Being in power for a decade, said political party cannot absolve itself of and cannot shirk from the responsibility of the gory trial of death and destruction than happened in post-poll scenario. 

The sequence incidents of violence cannot be justified as some historical legacy and party in power should introspect deeply on this issue for its own survival in the democratic system. If any political party, ruling or otherwise, is involved or abetted destruction of public or private properties, that a particular party should be made accountable for it and damages to be recovered from them. Those political leaders, who led or instigated such violence, should be disqualified in contesting elections and be debarred in holding any political office permanently.

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