The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo-motu cognizance of a media report about the incidents of elections related violence in West Bengal and has decided to depute the Director General (Investigation) of the Commission, as Special Human Rights Observer.

The Observer will apprise the Commission of the recent incidents and conduct an on the spot survey of the State in consultation with the State Election Commission (SEC) to identify sensitive constituencies where such violence is likely to occur in relating to the upcoming panchayat polls.

In its press release, the NHRC cites the recent incident in Purba Medinipur district, where a 60 years old political activist was allegedly abducted and killed. It also mentions the alleged kidnapping of activist Sanjay Tanti who was reportedly forcefully taken to an undisclosed location where he was severely beaten up by rival political workers. It mentions another incident where a political leader, Rajendra Shaw from Asansol (Paschim Bardhaman) was shot dead on a National Highway.

"Reportedly, there have been many other incidents of violence occurring in the State wherein workers of the contesting parties have clashed with each other and the 2018 rural elections are considered one of the most violent and bloody elections in the State of West Bengal. ...this as a serious issue impacting human rights, the Commission has found it appropriate and necessary to take preemptive steps in time to prevent and inhibit in advance any form of human rights violation of the citizens with a view to uphold inalienable and indefeasible right to life and livelihood, so guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution to preserve larger public interest", the NHRC says.

Once the sensitive areas are identified by the Observer, he will submit a comprehensive report to the Commission for deployment of Micro Human Rights Observers in all the sensitive constituencies in the state during and after the panchayat polls either by engaging the Special Rapporteurs or Special Monitors of the Commission etc., with a solo objective to protect basic human rights of the people by ensuring no violence takes place in Panchayat Election.

The NHRC has also issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, West Bengal to provide assistance to the Director General of NHRC and also ensure that law and order is maintained within the State during the entire process of Panchayat polls starting from filing nomination papers till the time result is declared and also subsequent days. An action taken report is also to be submitted within two weeks.

The Commission has also issued notice to the Secretary, West Bengal State Election Commission "for taking effective steps so as to ensure no human rights violations pre and post panchayat polls which includes modalities to facilitate the NHRC Director General (Investigation) in identifying sensitive districts/areas of the State in West Bengal where there may the need to deploy micro human rights observers of the Commission and an action taken report to be submitted within two weeks".