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Major Discrepancies Exposed in Bengal Govt's Reporting of Political Violence

RTI findings have revealed higher numbers of political murders than officially reported to the NCRB.
Major Discrepancies Exposed in Bengal Govt's Reporting of Political Violence

Image Courtesy: PTI

Kolkata: Glaring discrepancies have surfaced in the data submitted by the West Bengal Government to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) regarding political violence. An RTI application filed by socio-legal researcher and RTI activist Biswanath Goswami has revealed that the amount of political violence was higher than reported by the NCRB.

According to the NCRB, the state had only reported seven political murders in 2021. However, the RTI report received by activist Goswami indicates that in just nine police districts of the state, there were 49 victims of political murder in 2021. It should be noted that the RTI report is not conclusive, as more than 12 police districts have not cooperated or provided reports in response to the queries.

Previously, the state government had allegedly manipulated the number of deaths in farmer suicide cases and demonstrated discrepancies in the count of deaths in communal violence. Additionally, the state government and the election commission have petitioned the Supreme Court against the high court's order to deploy central forces in the state for panchayat polls. Despite the chief minister's repeated claims of being a state with less political violence and an oasis of peace, the reality of the state has been revealed through the RTI query.

As per reports sent to the NCRB, the state has witnessed 34 cases of political violence, resulting in seven fatalities. The aforementioned RTI activist submitted 30 separate queries to authorities in 30 police districts, seeking information on political violence and murder. Over 12 police districts either refused to answer the queries or claimed that no such incidents had occurred in their districts. However, data from other districts indicates that in 2021 alone, there were 809 cases of political violence, with 49 individuals falling victim to political murder in just nine districts. In the first half of 2022, there were two political murders and 55 cases of political violence.

For instance, in the East Burdwan police district, there were 123 cases of political violence resulting in nine deaths due to political violence and seven deaths due to electoral violence. West Medinipur police district recorded 132 cases, while Hoogly Rural police district witnessed 37 cases of political violence, resulting in 6 fatalities. Furthermore, in Krishnanagar, Baruipur, Bashirhaat, and Jalpaiguri police districts, two individuals each became victims of political violence in 2021.

Police authorities in turbulent districts like Murshidabad have downplayed incidents of political violence, claiming to lack relevant information. Similarly, the police in Birbhum district stated that deaths occurred solely due to electoral violence, with no fatalities reported from political violence. Asansol police district reported cases of political violence but no deaths. TMC terror-stricken districts such as Diamondharbour police district, Chandannagar, and the Kolkata police commissionerate refused to provide answers to the RTI queries.

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