NEW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry has asked West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar to give a report on the law and order situation in the state, particularly the violence that took place following the election results last weekend, officials said on Thursday.
The Home Ministry had earlier asked the state government to submit a report but has not yet received it, the officials said. The governor has been asked to assess the situation and submit his report to the ministry at the earliest.
The ministry has formed a four-member, headed by an additional secretary ranked officer, to investigate the post-poll violence. The BJP claims six of its workers were killed by TMC supporters, a charge denied by the Mamata Banerjee-led government.
The home ministry dispatched a terse reminder to the West Bengal government on Wednesday to submit a detailed report on the post-poll violence in the state, warning it that the matter will be taken "seriously" in case it fails to do so, and asked it to take necessary measures to stop such incidents "without any loss of time", officials said.
In a letter dispatched on Wednesday, the home ministry reminded the West Bengal chief secretary that on May 3, it had sought an immediate report from the state government on the post-poll violence.
However, the West Bengal government is yet to send the report, the officials said. According to latest inputs, the violence has not stopped in West Bengal and this means that effective measures were not taken by the state government to control it, the letter said.
Therefore, necessary steps should be taken to prevent these incidents without any loss of time, it added. A detailed report should be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) immediately, it said.
In case the report is not sent by the state government, the matter will be taken seriously, the letter added.
After the third straight convincing victory for the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, following a charged Assembly election campaign, West Bengal witnessed a number of violent incidents since Sunday, when the results were announced.
At least six people were killed in post-poll violence in different parts of the state till Tuesday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has alleged that TMC-backed goons have killed a number of its workers, attacked its women members, vandalised houses, looted shops of its members and ransacked its offices.
Claiming that at least 14 BJP workers were killed and nearly one lakh people fled their homes in post-poll violence in West Bengal, party president J P Nadda alleged on Wednesday that the chief minister's silence speaks of her involvement.
Banerjee rejected the charges, saying violence and clashes were taking place in those areas where the BJP candidates emerged victorious in the election.
Speaking to reporters at state secretariat Nabanna after taking oath, the chief minister also claimed that most of the videos of violence being shared on social media are either fake or old.
"I have noticed that violence and clashes are taking place in those areas where the BJP have won the elections. These places can be seen as black spots," she said.
Banerjee said when these incidents happened, law and order in the state was under the Election Commission (EC).
"Law and order in West Bengal deteriorated in the last three months. There were some sporadic incidents and not all were real, most were fake. The BJP is showing old videos," she said.
The TMC supremo said all the district magistrates (DMs) and superintendents of police (SPs) were asked to strictly deal with any emerging situation.
"If someone is found involved in any incident, we will deal with it very strictly. We are not going to tolerate any lawlessness here," she said.
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar had said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned him and expressed anguish over the law-and-order situation in the state following reports of post-poll violence from several districts.
Banerjee had asked people on Sunday to show restraint and not indulge in any kind of violence.
The BJP on Wednesday claimed that 14 party workers were killed and nearly a lakh people fled their homes in post-poll violence, charges which were denied as fabricated by the Trinamool Congress.
BJP president J P Nadda at a press conference here claimed that 80,000 to one lakh people have left their homes in different parts of the state in the wake of Trinamool Congresss spectacular electoral victory and held Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee responsible, alleging her silence (on the violence) speaks of her involvement.
Earlier in the day, Banerjee after taking oath for a third term in office said she would take strict action to stop any lawlessness and pointed out till her swearing in, the states law and order were supervised by the Election Commission which had changed many top-level police personnel responsible for tackling such incidents.
Condemning the "brutal killings after the (election) results", Nadda alleged that 14 BJP workers have been killed and women molested and raped in various parts of the state.
The assembly election results were declared on May 2 with the ruling Trinamool Congress winning 213 of the 292 assembly seats.
"Mamata Banerjee's silence (on the violence) speaks of her involvement. She has blood on her hand," Nadda said.
During his two-day visit to the state from Tuesday, the BJP president visited the residences of some party workers who allegedly faced atrocities at the hands of TMC supporters.
Alleging attacks on BJP workers in Canning Purba constituency in South 24 Parganas district and destruction of villages, he said the people there have faced "(cyclone) Amphan last year and `Mamataphan this year".
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh however labelled the rival partys claims as fabricated and said most violence was because of intra-party spats within the Bharatiya Janata Party.
He also claimed that six TMC men had been killed.
Nadda claimed that people in north Bengal districts have been fleeing to neighbouring Assam to save their lives.
Asked whether the BJP was contemplating to seek imposition of Article 356 of the Constitution in West Bengal, he said that the procedure is that a report is sent by the governor, analysed by central agencies and Ministry of Home Affairs and a decision is then taken.
"So, it is for them to make the decision", he said.
Under Article 356, if a state government is unable to function according to Constitutional provisions, the Centre can take direct control of the state machinery.
"As far as the BJP is concerned, even if it is a fit case (for the imposition of Article 356), we are people who fight democratically," Nadda said.
The chief minister speaking to reporters at state secretariat `Nabanna, claimed violence and clashes were occurring in areas where the BJP won the elections and added that most of the videos of violence being shared on social media were either fake or old.
"I have noticed that violence and clashes are taking place in those areas where the BJP have won the elections.
These places can be seen as black spots," she said.
The chief minister said that when these incidents happened, the law and order was under the Election Commission.
"The law and order in West Bengal deteriorated in the last three months. There were some sporadic incidents and not all were real, most were fake. BJP is showing old videos," she claimed.
"I will appeal to all political parties to stop this (violence). Or else, law will take its course. Bengal is a land of peace, heritage and here we stay in peace with people from every section of the society," she said.
Hours after taking oath as the chief minister, Banerjee held a top-level meeting with senior officials of the state government, including Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and Home Secretary HK Dwidevi on the present law and order situation.
She also reinstated Virender, as the Director- General of Police and Jawed Shamim as the ADG (Law and Order).
Both the officers were removed from their respective posts by the Election Commission ahead of the polls.
Meanwhile, Mamata on Wednesday initiated a major reshuffle in the police hierarchy, transferring 29 top-level police officers, mostly those who were shifted by the Election Commission prior to the polls.
Among the top-level officers who have been brought back to their former positions are DG Virendra, ADG (Law and Order) Jawed Shamim and DG Security Vivek Sahay, an order issued this evening said.
The government also suspended Debashis Dhar, SP of Cooch Behar district where four persons were killed in CISF firing during polling on April 10 in Sitalkuchi constituency.
Banerjee has already ordered a CID probe into the incident.
Dhar was replaced by K Kannan who had been sent to OCW (officer-on-compulsory-waiting) during the election. Virendra, who was transferred by the EC, has been reinstated to his former position.
Neeraj Nayan Pandey, who had been made the DG in place of Veerendra, was now posted as DG (Fire Services).
Similarly, ADG (Law and Order) Jagmohan has been transferred to the civil defence and Jawed Shamim who was moved out by the commission for alleged police excesses during a Left rally has been brought back as the ADG (Law and Order).
In a separate order, Vivek Sahay, former DG Security, who was removed by the poll panel alleging lapse in security arrangements of the chief minister after she was injured in a rally in Purba Medinipur district, has been brought back to his former position.
Gyanwant Singh who worked as ADG Security during the election got back his earlier post and he has been given the additional responsibility of ADG and IGP of the Armed Police.
Another transferred officer Sanjay Singh, officer-on- compulsory-waiting, has been posted as ADG and IG of Western range.
In the morning, the chief minister had indicated that she was not happy with the 'inefficiency' of the police in different areas.
"The administration was not under my control for the last three months. It was under the control of the Election Commission. There is some inefficiency. We will take decisions regarding this soon," she had said.
The state home department, in addition to this, has made some significant transfers like bringing back Monoj Verma as the commissioner of Barackpore Commissionerate.
Verma was transferred from Barackpore and was made IG of Counter Insurgency Force by the commission.
Similarly, Mitesh Jain who was made the commissioner of Asansol-Durgapur Commissionerate has been sent to compulsory waiting.
Ajay Thakur, presently posted as DIG, CID in the state police, was brought in his place.
Two more commissioners were transferred.
Gourav Sharma presently working as Commissioner of Chanadannagar Police Commissionerate has been sent to Siliguri Police Commissionerate as commissioner and Arnab Ghosh, presently posted as member secretary of West Bengal Police Reform Board, has been made the commissioner of Chandannagar in his place.
DIG, Barasat range, Mukesh has also been sent to officer-on-compulsory waiting.
The government has transferred SPs of 16 districts.
Among them are some officers who were shunted by the commission during the election.
Bhola Nath Pandey who was transferred by the commission following the attack on BJP president J P Nadda's convoy in Diamond Harbour has been made SP of Alipurduar.
Soumya Roy who was transferred as his wife was contesting the election has been brought back as SP Howrah (Rural).
Meanwhile, the government sent Rahul Majumdar who is presently posted as joint secretary at the Chief Minister's Office as the DM of Purulia district in place of Abhjit Mukhopadhyay.
Mukhopadhyay was sent to OCW in the personnel and administrative reforms department in the state secretariat.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)