The Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal is in "denial mode" about the violence that erupted in May following the state elections, the Calcutta High Court said on Friday, issuing its strongest censure yet following repeated complaints by the BJP.
Taking up an interim report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on complaints of attacks on the government's political adversaries after the March-April elections, the high court said that there was enough evidence to establish that post-poll violence had indeed taken place.
"The state is in denial mode," a special five-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal said, adding that the administration had been caught "on the wrong foot".
Acknowledging incidents of sexual violence on women and minors, the court sent a show-cause notice to a senior police officer for failing to assist an NHRC team that came to probe the allegations.
"The state must respond to queries by NHRC," the court said, asking the Chief Secretary to ensure that sensitive documents and correspondence from state police units were preserved.
It also ordered a second autopsy at the army hospital in Kolkata of one of the men who was allegedly killed in post-poll violence and said that the state must make all arrangements for medical treatment of those injured in the attacks.
Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari said he "welcomed" the ruling but demanded the investigation be transferred to an "independent" agency.
"(Investigation) charge should be given to (an) independent agency. FIR must be filed outside Bengal and the probe should continue. Things will be clear then. The interim report proves the affidavit (post-poll violence) filed by Bengal Chief Minister is false," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
For two months now, the BJP has alleged that the state has gone soft on curbing post-poll violence that especially targeted its supporters and leaders following their defeat in the polls against the ruling Trinamool Congress.
The West Bengal government has said the reports have been greatly exaggerated, with fake videos and images, and most of the incidents of violence that took place around the May 2 counting day happened when the state police were under the control of the Election Commission.
The issue of post-poll violence has also gone to the Supreme Court via families of the victims who are demanding a CBI probe and a plea seeking direction to the centre to impose President's Rule in the state.