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Monday, June 14, 2021

Post-poll violence: With BJP MP, Governor visits Sitalkuchi, shown black flags

During the fourth phase of Assembly elections on April 10, four persons were killed in the firing by Central forces in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
May 14, 2021 3:31:24 am
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar meets family members of those who had died during violence at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar, on Thursday. (PTI)

West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar was shown black flags and was greeted by ‘Go Back’ slogan in Cooch Behar district on Thursday as he reached there to meet people allegedly affected by post-poll violence.

During the fourth phase of Assembly elections on April 10, four persons were killed in the firing by Central forces in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district. Another person was shot dead by armed miscreants. After the Assembly election results, in which the Trinamool Congress won by a landslide, there were reports of violence from the area.

With Dhankhar going ahead with the visit despite opposition from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who in a strongly worded letter had told the Governor that his visit violated long-standing protocols followed by his predecessors, the ruling party hit out at him and said that they will complain against the Governor’s conduct to President Ram Nath Kovind.

Accompanied by BJP MP Nisith Pramanik, Dhankhar visited Mathabhanga, Sitalkuchi, Sitai and Dinhata, where the BJP has alleged loot and attack on its workers by goons owing allegiance to ruling TMC.

In Dinhata, a group of people showed black flags to Dhankhar and raised ‘Go Back’ slogan. He was also shown black flags at Golokganj while on the way to Sitalkuchi as a posse of policemen put up human walls to prevent protesters from coming down on to the road.

After reaching Dinhata, Dhankhar reprimanded police officers for allegedly not preventing slogan-shouting. “I am shocked. This is a total collapse of the rule of law. I could never imagine such a thing could happen… I have seen fear in the eyes of the people and they are afraid to go to the police station to file complaints,” Dhankhar told mediapersons.

“During the elections, she (Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) had publicly said that Central armed forces will not be there always and she will see after that. This kind of challenge and behaviour is not acceptable under the Constitution… History will judge Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister. History will also judge Jagdeep Dhankhar, the governor, and it will judge the bureaucracy and the media,” Dhankar added.

Claiming that he did not get any response from the state government despite efforts being made to get information about the post-poll violence, Dhankhar said the state government must provide him with the requisite information under Article 167 of the Constitution. “I will perform my constitutional duties unhindered, undeterred by any situation whatsoever,” he said.

Before leaving for Cooch Behar, the Governor said, “The country is facing Covid crisis and West Bengal is facing the twin challenges of the pandemic and unprecedented post-poll violence because some people had decided to vote as per their own choice.”

Taking umbrage at Governor’s visit and his remarks, the TMC accused him of partisan attitude and playing politics.

TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh alleged that Dhankhar went to the houses of some BJP workers selectively. He also said that Dhankhar was working at the bidding of the BJP and was taking along its leaders during his visit.

“He (Dhankhar) did not listen to the state government and went ahead with his visit. He went there accompanied by a BJP leader. His conduct is unconstitutional. Previously, we had written a letter to the President against this Governor. If the CM allows, we will send another letter against him to the president,” TMC MP Sougata Roy said.

On the eve of his visit, the CM wrote to Governor. “I find from social media that you are unilaterally proceeding to Cooch Behar district on May 13 and, sadly, I find that to be violative of the long-standing norms as evolved over several decades. I, therefore, would expect you will kindly follow the well-established norms of protocol, as stated above and desist from abrupt decisions with regards to field visits.” She also said the Governor was by-passing the council of ministers and dictating directly to state officials.

In December last year, the TMC had written to President Ram Nath Kovind to remove Jagdeep Dhankhar from the post of the West Bengal governor, accusing him of “transgressing constitutional limits” by regularly commenting against the state administration in public.

Senior TMC leader and minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said that Dhankhar’s conduct is unbecoming of a Governor. “The Governor is doing politics over stray incidents after polls for which the state government has taken all necessary steps. He is doing politics when the state is busy fighting the pandemic. We wish that the governor and the state government work together to fight the Covid situation,” Chattopadhyay told reporters.

In a tweet, TMC Lok Sabha MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar urged Dhankhar to “stop nasty divisive propaganda”, saying it is not time for that.

On Friday, the Governor is scheduled to visit camps in neighbouring Assam where some people from West Bengal have reportedly taken refuge due to the skirmishes.

With PTI INPUTS

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