Ram Navami Violence Appears Pre-Planned: Calcutta HC Reserves Order In PIL seeking NIA Probe

Read Time: 07 minutes


The current matter appears to be serious in nature as per the reports which suggest that the Ram Navami violence was prima facie pre-planned, court said. 

The Calcutta High Court on Monday reserved the verdict in the PIL filed by Suvendu Adhikari, the Opposition Leader of West Bengal and BJP MLA seeking a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the violence during the Ram Navami Processions in the state.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya observed that the violence that erupted during the recent Ram Navami processions in Howrah and Dalkhola was prima facie 'pre-planned,' and there was a lack of intelligence on the side of the State Police.

"When there is an external threat or infiltration, the internet is frequently suspended. But we don't understand why here the internet was suspended for a religious procession. When people are walking and there is an altercation, for example, this is referred to as sudden violence. However, your (State's) findings appear to suggest that all of this (violence) was pre-planned. There have been reports of stones being thrown from roofs. It is obvious that no one can carry stones up to the rooftop in 10 to 15 minutes," the bench said.

Advocate General S.N.Mookherjee opposed the National Investigation Agency's request for an investigation into the violence before the court. He argued that the state police are already investigating the matter. He also said that an NIA probe can be ordered only if there is sufficient material and satisfaction from the Union government that it is a fit case for ordering an NIA probe.

Acting Chief Justice Sivagnanam orally mentioned that the current matter appears to be serious in nature as per the reports which suggest that the Ram Navami violence was prima facie pre-planned. Therefore a central investigation agency would be a better option to look into the problem, the bench said.

"There was an intelligence failure. The problem is two-fold. One is whether it is between two groups. The other is, a third group could be taking advantage of the situation. If that group is involved, then this needs to be probed by a central agency because it is difficult for the state police to find out. Who has come in to take advantage," the court orally observed.

The bench noted that swords, bottles, broken glasses, and acid were used in the violence and that access to the internet was restricted, demonstrating how widespread the violence was done.

The bench further said, "Within 4-5 months, the state obtained eight High Court decrees, all of which concern violence during religious festivals."

According to the court, violence often takes place in West Bengal, particularly during religious celebrations.

Furthermore, when the court asked the AG why state reports do not mention bombs being thrown while the incident was widely covered in the media, the AG clearly denied this. He said that the charges in the writ petitions about the bombing and burning of houses were false.

Other advocates also testified before the court, arguing that the State's Chief Minister made statements dividing state areas based on religion.

Accordingly, the bench reserved the orders.

Case Title: Sri Suvendu Adhikari vs. The State of West Bengal