Fourth phase of polls is marred by violence, BJP and TMC play blame-game after five killed in shooting in Cooch Behar

Fourth phase of polls is marred by violence, BJP and TMC play blame-game after five killed in shooting in Cooch Behar

Hummingbird News Desk

KOLKATA, 10 APRIL: The fourth phase of the assembly polls in West Bengal was marred after two consecutive incidents in Cooch Behar where five persons including an 18-year-old first-time voter were killed and three others injured today.

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In the first incident, a first-time voter was shot dead by unidentified persons outside a polling booth number 85 in Pathantuli area of Sitalkuchi while voting was underway.

The youth identified as Anand Burman, was dragged outside polling booth, could not franchise his right.

The incident triggered a clash between TMC and BJP supporters and several people were injured as bombs were lobbed outside the booth. Central forces had to resort to lathi-charge to bring the situation under control, he said.

The Trinamool Congress alleged that the BJP was behind the killing, while the saffron party claimed that the deceased was its polling agent at the booth and held the ruling party responsible for the killing.

In the second incident, four people were killed as CISF personnel allegedly opened fire after coming under attack from locals who “attempted to snatch their rifle” outside a polling booth number 126 in Cooch Behar. Three others were injured in the shooting.

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According to the Superintendent of Police (SP) Cooch Behar, Debashish Dhar, the Central force personnel opened fire in self defence.

He said: “Everything was normal till 9:30 a.m. Then one person fell unconscious as he was ill…. The CISF personnel were enquiring as to what had happened, when a rumour was spread that the person had been attacked by the CISF. Soon 300-350 villagers assembled and began to attack the CISF with homemade makeshift weapons. Reinforcement was called from the nearby QRT (Quick Response Team). A lot of scuffling took place, and the incident (firing) took place when there was an attempt to snatch the rifles and enter the polling booth.”

The Trinamool claimed that the four men who were killed were its supporters and that the attack was a premeditated one on the party.

In the wake of the violence, the Election Commission this evening decided to bar the entry of politicians to Cooch Behar district for the next 72 hours.

The EC has also extended the “silence period” from 48 hours to 72 hours for the fifth phase of polling scheduled on 17 April.

Reacting strongly against the EC’s order Yashwant Sinha, who recently joined the Trinamool said on social media: “Election Commission has covered itself with mud by stopping Mamata from going to Coochbehar. After all she is still the CM of Bengal and it is her duty to visit the place of this unfortunate occurrence. We know for certain now that EC is not fair.”

Mamata Banerjee demanded the resignation of Amit Shah, claiming that “Delhi’s police” had done the killing. At an election rally in Bongaon, North 24 Parganas, she said: “Delhi’s police has shot and killed four people in the voters’ line today… and are saying that the villagers had come to snatch the guns. BJP should hang itself in shame. They spill the blood of people and they talk big. Amit Shah you resign as the Home Minister. You are a conspirator. I have been saying for a long time that the CRPF is torturing the people…. Women are being harassed and humiliated in the villages.” She claimed that the BJP, knowing that it has lost, is now resorting to firing on people. “Do you want to vote for those who fire on people?” she asked at the rally.

After the two incidents came to light, a political blame-game has ensued between the Trinamul Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi squarely blamed Mamata Banerjee for instigating people against central forces at an election rally in North Bengal.

Image: Debabrata Malakar

“Mamata Banerjee is instigating people against central forces, trying to foment trouble,” said PM Modi.

He added, “What happened on Sitalkuchi (Cooch Behar) is sad. I urge EC to take action”

The sentiment was echoed by Nisith Pramanik, BJP MP and a candidate in Cooch Behar, who said that Banerjee “has been instigating violence against central forces for long. This is the consequence of such instigation. Armed miscreants attacked QRT of central forces.”

Reacting sharply to the incident, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that she was “shocked and saddened” to see the audacity of the central forces.

“Today I heard that central forces shot four perons dead. They were voters and standing in a queue. Central forces are not my enemies. But they are under Amit Shah’s command. He is conspiring and killing people this. Why is this torture is it because, BJP lost elections here,” said Miss Banerjee at an election campaign rally at North 24 Paragana.

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