Accusing the West Bengal government of "appalling apathy" towards victims of political violence after the March-April elections, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended a CBI probe into "grievous offences like murder and rape" and said that these cases should be tried outside the state.
In a sweeping indictment of the state government, an NHRC committee formed on the directions of the Calcutta High Court said the situation in West Bengal was a "manifestation of law of ruler instead of rule of law" and "the local police has been grossly derelict, if not complicit, in this violence."
Backing claims of "retributive violence by supporters of the ruling party against supporters of the main opposition party" the BJP, the report placed before the high court said that it "resulted in disruption of life and livelihood of thousands of people and their economic strangulation."
"To compound the problem, violence and intimidation has continued. There is palpable fear among victims against police and goons of ruling party. Many displaced persons have not yet been able to return to their homes and resume their normal life and livelihood. There have been several sexual offences but victims are scared to speak out. Loss of faith in State administration among victims is very evident," the NHRC said.
"The committee has recommended that grievous offences like murder, rape, etc should be handed over to the CBI for investigation and these cases should be tried outside the state," the report, submitted before the court on Tuesday, said.
The statements, however, have not gone uncontested. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday lashed out at the NHRC for "disrespecting the court" and pursuing the "political vendetta" of the BJP by leaking its report.
Ms Banerjee also expressed surprise over the conclusion that the NHRC arrived at in its report without taking into account the views of the state government.
"The BJP is now using impartial agencies to settle political scores and malign our state. The NHRC should have respected the court. Instead of leaking the findings to the media, it should have first submitted the same to the court," she said.
The NHRC denied her charge that the report was leaked, saying, "Since the report is already available with all the concerned parties as per the directives of the Hon'ble Court, there is no question of leakage at the level of the NHRC."
Earlier this month, the Calcutta High Court had pulled up the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal for being in "denial mode" about the violence that erupted in May following the state elections, issuing its strongest censure yet following repeated complaints by the BJP.
Taking up an interim report of the 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.
For over 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.