Ram Navami riots in Bengal ‘pre-planned, orchestrated’: Fact-finding Committee report

The six-member fact-finding committee on alleged violations of human rights in West Bengal, led by former Patna High Court Chief Justice Narsimha Reddy, said in its interim report on Monday that the riots during the Ram Navami procession were “pre-planned, orchestrated, and instigated”.

The fact-finding panel sought a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the violence. The fact-finding team was on a three-day tour of West Bengal to assess alleged human rights violations in the state during Ram Navami processions in Howrah and Hooghly districts.

The Committee consists of former Patna High Court Chief Justice L Narsimha Reddy, former IPS Raj Pal Singh, former member of the National Commission for Women advocate Charu Wali Khanna, former Joint Registrar (Law) of the National Human Rights Commission of India advocate OP Vyas, senior journalist Sanjeev Nayak, and former consultant to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights advocate Bhavna Bajaj.

“The Committee is of the view that the riots that erupted on the auspicious occasion of Rain Navami on 30 March and continued in its aftermath were pre-planned, orchestrated, and instigated. The trigger was the grossly inflammatory speech of the West Bengal Chief Minister. The Committee has come across several user-generated videos and media reports also reporting multiple videos, which confirm that the peaceful Ram Navami procession was targeted and the rioters were exhorted to stop and target the procession,” the report stated.

The Committee said in its report that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, just before the processions on Ram Navami, while sitting on dharna, made a call through a communal speech that any procession passing through ‘muslim areas’ (as spoken verbatim) will be seriously acted upon.

The committee said it appeared that communally charged mob violence broke out against people taking part in the peaceful Ram Navami processions, and at the same time, the state police were found completely missing in action to control rioters. The committee sought appropriate police action in the matter by filing FIRs against the culprits behind the riots to achieve justice for the victims.

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