NCSC asked to postpone Bengal visit inquiring into 'Dalit atrocities'
The West Bengal government has asked the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) to postpone its visit to the state to inquire into alleged atrocities against Dalits during post-poll violence in the state, citing the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and protocols. The NCSC claimed to have been receiving letters and complaints of atrocities against Dalits since the election results were announced on May 2.
'No incident of post-poll violence reported after May 8'
The NCSC had conveyed to the Bengal government its plan to visit the state on May 13 and 14 and inquire into the cases of atrocities in East Burdhwan and 24 Paraganas districts, reported Hindustan Times. Incidentally, the state government on Monday told the Kolkata High Court that not a single incident of post-poll violence has been reported in the state after May 8.
Bengal Chief Secretary asked NCSC to forward complains to DGP
The NCSC had sought a meeting with the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police. Subsequently, in a letter to the NCSC on May 11, the Chief Secretary asked the NCSC to forward the complaints it had received to the DGP. This was done to "enable (the DGP) to transfer the same to the concerned police station for appropriate action," a source told HT.
After NCSC referred to spot visits, government cited pandemic restrictions
When the Commission wrote back saying that it was part of its mandate to conduct spot visits, the government wrote a second letter, also dated May 11, pointing out the NCSC should reconsider its decision during the pandemic. "The West Bengal government said there are many containment restrictions arising out of the current disaster management...which the NCSC is aware of," added the source.
Later, hotel booked for NCSC team allegedly denied accommodation
Even as NCSC chairperson Vijay Sampla confirmed that he was scheduled to visit the state on Wednesday, the source told HT that the team's accommodation was called off. "The hotel that was booked for the team has called to say that it cannot accommodate the visitors, citing excuses. The Commission will take it up with the state government," the source was quoted as saying.
There will be a problem if state doesn't cooperate: NCSC
Reiterating that conducting spot visits is warranted, Samla said the NCSC was entitled to set up an inquiry, seek reports, and even summon the state officials if cases of violence against Dalits are reported anywhere in the country. "There will be a problem if the state does not cooperate with the Commission or stops us from visiting the spots we have identified," Sampla said.
BJP and TMC have accused each other of casteism
Last month, Bharatiya Janata Party president JP Nadda accused the Trinamool Congress of having an anti-Dalit stance, in wake of a TMC member equating people from the SC communities with beggars. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had retorted, "Have you forgotten Hathras (incident) where a Dalit girl was raped and burnt and her father killed? Have you forgotten how Dalits are treated in your states?"
NCSC had set up online grievance system on April 14
The NCSC on April 14 announced an Online Grievance Management Portal for submission of complaints about atrocities against members from SC communities. The portal allows citizens to register complaints from anywhere in the country and also allows users to track the progress of their complaints.