WB post-poll violence: ‘More than 200 displaced’ and 74 complaints received


The Calcutta High Court heard a PIL calling for an investigation into the violence that happened after the declaration of assembly poll results on May 2, 2021. 

Delhi: Over 200 people were displaced and are out of their homes during the pandemic in the violence that followed the declaration of assembly poll results in the state of West Bengal, said Advocate Priyanka Tibrewal, in a Calcutta High Court hearing on May 28, 2021. The five-judge bench, presided by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, also noted that till May 22, 2021, 74 complaints had been received in regard to the violence. 

Senior Advocate Bikash Rajan Bhattacharya, appearing with Tibrewal said that given the persons displaced, the state should take remedial measures. Tibrewal added, “I am not demanding anything from the state; just to protect my right to return to homes.” Tibrewal wanted a police escort so that the people could safely return to their homes. 

Lahari Dam, a voter from Kolkata said, “The poll violence was very unfortunate. We thought that the period after the declaration of poll results would be peaceful and this communally charged election would come to an end. But, that did not happen. Any type of violence is scary.” 

 Upamanyu, a voter and Communist Party of India (CPI) (Marxist) member from Kolkata said, “Any kind of violence is not acceptable, but about 90 percent of the news was fake and there was no such communal angle related to the violence which was interpreted by mainstream media. The Coochbehar-Arambagh belt saw most of the violence.”

Advocate General Kishore Datta, appearing for the West Bengal government, said that Tibrewal was making “unfounded allegations” and that the identity of the displaced persons is not known. He added, “Most of the complaints were false and wrong, and the same has been stated in a state’s affidavit.”

To this, Justice Sen responded, “Irrespective of all allegations, the state has the obligation to ensure that people can go back to their houses…How can the state oppose?”

The elections in West Bengal were held in eight phases, taking almost a whole month. The results saw Trinamool Congress coming back to power after winning 148 seats out of the assembly of 292 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came second with 77 seats. Soon after coming to power on May 5, 2021, the Mamata Banerjee-led government held a meeting to put an end to the post-poll violence that took 14 lives.

Dr. Haokam Vaiphei, professor of political science at the University of Delhi said, “The violence that took place after the results were declared certainly sets a very bad precedent for all future elections. It also goes to show the extent to which we have normalized aggression in Indian politics.” 

He added that given that the state was polling for almost a month, the violence was somewhat expected given the pent-up anger and tensions regarding the poll result.