NEW DELHI: Having received no response from the
government to its May 3 letter seeking immediate measures to check post-poll violence in the state and asking for a detailed report on the incidents, the ministry of home affairs (
) on Thursday sent a four-member team of officers to the state to assess the ground situation.
The team, led by an additional secretary in MHA, was deputed a day after the ministry sent a reminder to the West
chief secretary asking it to furnish the report on the targeted post-poll attacks “at once”, failing which “the matter will be viewed seriously”.
Sources said the MHA team, which comprises a senior CRPF officer, left for Kolkata on Thursday morning.
While the West Bengal government is expected to cooperate with the Central team, make information available as well as facilitate its visit on the ground, there have been instances in the distant past where such teams sent by the home ministry had to counter non-cooperation upon reaching the state, in the form of being made to wait at the airport at the destination and not being provided police protection. There have also been rare cases of such teams having to return from the airport of the destination state.
In a communication sent to the West Bengal chief secretary on Wednesday, the home ministry had recalled its letter dated May 3 seeking a detailed report on post-poll incidents and said: “Unfortunately no response has been received from the government of West Bengal….till date. As per reports, there is no let-up in post-poll violence. It is evident that no effective measures have been taken by the state government so far to contain violence.”
The chief secretary was asked by MHA to ensure that all the necessary steps to prevent incidents of political violence are taken without further loss of time and a detailed report on these incidents is furnished to the Centre “at once”.
Incidentally, given the Constitutional scheme of things and the strong federal set up, there Centre can make only few interventions given that law and order is an exclusive domain of the state government. The options for the Centre include sending advisories, calling for reports from the chief secretary on law and order situations and sending a team of officers to assess these situations for itself.
The state is expected to cooperate with the Central team, make information available as well as facilitate its visits on the ground.
Meanwhile, rights bodies like NHRC and NCW have already taken note of the post-poll attacks in West Bengal and swung into action. On Tuesday, NHRC took suo-motu cognizance of media reports relating to the post-poll attacks in West Bengal and asked its director (investigation) to constitute a team for conducting an on-the-spot, fact-finding inquiry and submit a report, possibly within the next fortnight. Even the National Commission for Women issued a notice to the state DGP seeking immediate action in case relating to post-poll attacks on women.
This is not the first time that the Mamata Banerjee government has defied the Centre on matters relating to political violence in the state. After BJP president J P Nadda’s convoy was attacked in December, the home ministry had summoned the state chief secretary and DGP to New Delhi for a “discussion on law and order”, but the latter two never turned up, saying that the issue was already being addressed with “utmost seriousness”. Even the home ministry’s request for sending three West Bengal cadre IPS officers – linked to laxity that led to the attack on Nadda — on Central deputation was not honoured by the state government.