A week after it issued an advisory to the West Bengal government to contain the political violence that has kept the state on the edge since before the national elections, the centre has sought a report from the Mamata Banerjee administration asking what measures it has taken against those responsible, government sources said.
The "unabated violence over the years is evidently a matter of deep concern", the Home Ministry has said, according to sources.
According to reports with the Home Ministry, the number of incidents of political violence in West Bengal increased from 509 in 2016 to 1035 in 2018. Nearly 800 incidents have already taken place in 2019. "Correspondingly, the death toll rose from 36 in 2016 to 96 in 2018 while 26 deaths have already taken place in 2019 till date," sources said.
"The continued trend of political violence from 2016 through 2019, as evident from the above figures, is indicative of the failure on the part of the law enforcement machinery of the state," the advisory read.
"A report may be sent to this Ministry on the steps taken by the state government and its law enforcement machinery to investigate the incidents of violence to bring the culprits to book as also the measures taken to contain and curb violence," it added.
The Bengal government had firmly rebuffed the charges that the centre made in its last advisory, saying that there were only a few "stray post-poll clashes" in West Bengal and the situation in the state was "under control".
State Chief Secretary Malay Kumar De wrote that "firm and appropriate actions" were initiated in all cases of violence without any delay.
The centre's last advisory had come after the Bengal BJP had approached home minister Amit Shah, who is chief of the party, claiming three of its workers were killed by Trinamool Congress workers in the state last week.
The workers of the Trinamool Congress and the BJP have been on a spiral of violence as the turf war in Bengal gains momentum. In the recently-held Lok Sabha election, the BJP increased its tally from two to 18 of the state's 42 seats. Mamata Banerjee's party was slightly ahead with only 22 seats.
With the next prize being the assembly elections two years away, the Trinamool is determined not to cede any space. Ms Banerjee had skipped Prime Minister Narendra Modi's oath after the BJP said they would ferry the families of 52 murdered party workers to Delhi for the ceremony.
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