Post-poll violence: Cal HC asks setting up of panel to monitor return of displaced people

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(Eds: With minor edits in intro) Kolkata, May 31 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court on Monday ordered constitution of a three-member panel to monitor and coordinate the return of people, who were allegedly forced to flee owing to post-poll violence, to their homes in Kolkata's Entally area, and said it is the duty of the state to ensure that law and order situation is maintained.

The committee will comprise a top official each from the National Human Rights Commission, West Bengal Human Rights Commission and the State Legal Services Authority.

Hearing PILS on post-poll violence in the state, a five-judge directed the committee to file a report before it on July 4 when the matter would be heard again.

One of the petitions was regarding 200 people, who were allegedly not allowed to go back to their houses in Entally constituency in Kolkata after Assembly polls were concluded.

The bench directed the committee to file a report on whether the people are peacefully allowed to return home and live there.

'The Committee shall consist of an officer each nominated by the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission and the West Bengal State Human Rights Commission and the Member Secretary of the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority,' the bench ordered.

The bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and justices I P Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Subrata Talukdar observed that no person can be forced to stay away from his or her house because of a threat to life.

'They have the right to live in their houses peacefully. It is the duty of the State to ensure that law and order situation is maintained,' the court observed.

The bench directed that the persons, who are allegedly not being allowed to return home, will communicate on the official e-mail ID of the West Bengal State Legal Services Authority,, regarding problems being faced by them in going back.

The bench ordered that it will be the duty of the local police to ensure that all the persons alleged to have been displaced are reinstated in their houses and they do not face any threat to their life, liberty and property.

'In case of any untoward incident the local police will be responsible, if they fail to maintain peace, law and order in the area,' the bench ordered.

Advocate General Kishore Dutta, representing the state government, sought to dispute the allegations of petitioner Priyanka Tibrewal that 200 people were displaced from Entally.

Dutta claimed that 39 of them have already returned home, while some of them are away on job requirements or owing to lock down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Clashes were reported from several places in West Bengal following the declaration of assembly election results on May 2.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said earlier this month that at least 16 people have lost their lives in post- poll violence in the state. PTI AMR NN NN