High Court asks Bengal govt to ensure protection of properties
Calcutta High Court on Thursday ordered the Bengal government to take advance measures to avoid untoward incidents during agitation against derogatory remarks on Prophet Mohammed by now-axed BJP spokespersons.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava said the government would also have to ensure that private and public properties were not damaged or destroyed by agitators in future.
The judges issued the order in response to three separate public interest litigations filed by Sushmita Saha Datta and two other advocates of the high court seeking deployment of the army in “riot-hit” areas. In an interim order, the court held that if needed, the state could seek assistance from central forces. But in the final order, the bench asked the government to take the army’s help if the situation demanded so.
The high court directed the government to gather CCTV footage of untoward incidents, if any, as quickly as possible. It also asked for the gathering and preservation of CCTV footage and related documents of the areas hit by violence and properties already affected.
The division bench further asked the government to keep the court informed on untoward events, if any, in future.
On Monday, police had claimed that they had made more than 200 arrests and registered 42 cases in connection with violent protests in parts of the state against the derogatory comments made by Nupur Sharma and Navin Jindal.
The administration had, according to Nabanna, acted tough to control the situation in Howrah, Murshidabad and Nadia — the three districts that erupted over the weekend — and the law enforcers would gather evidence to press charges against the trouble-mongers.
Several senior BJP leaders such as Suvendu Adhikari had sought the deployment of the army and paramilitary forces in the trouble-hit areas to bring the situation under control.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee publicly demanded the immediate arrest of Sharma and Jindal for their “heinous and atrocious” hate speech, appealed for peace in Bengal, and warned against disruptive protests.
“Go and file FIRs at police stations against those two (Sharma and Jindal). Submit memorandums demanding their arrest. Write to the President of India. Conduct rallies demanding the resignation of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi… peacefully,” the Trinamul Congress chief said in her message to the protesters, adding that the remarks were part of a “horrible conspiracy” to divide the nation.