Updated: April 12, 2021 7:41:56 am
THE DAY after four persons were killed when CISF personnel opened fired at a mob that tried to snatch their weapons outside a polling station in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar, a war of words broke out Sunday between the BJP and the ruling TMC with Union Home Minister Amit Shah blaming Mamata Banerjee’s provocative comments for the attack on central forces and the Chief Minister describing the incident as a “genocide”.
“Mamata Banerjee had advised the people to gherao central forces. Is this not responsible for the deaths in Sitalkuchi? Her advice had instigated the people to attack the CISF,” Shah said.
Referring to a fifth death on Saturday, in a separate incident, Shah accused Banerjee of indulging in “appeasement politics” by being selective in paying tributes.
“Mamata Banerjee had paid tributes to four persons who were killed in the CISF firing but did not condole the death of Anand Barman as he is from the Rajbongshi community and is not suited for her vote bank. It is very unfortunate to see appeasement politics even in case of deaths. This is not Bengal’s culture,” Shah said.
The BJP’s state chief Dilip Ghosh described those who were killed in the CISF firing as “dustu chelera (bad boys)” and said there will be similar incidents if they do not behave.
Addressing a press conference in Siliguri, Banerjee said: “This is nothing but genocide… If their intention was to disperse the mob, they may have fired on the leg but they targeted the chest. They are CISF. They have no experience in controlling a mob…It is very unfortunate that this force was sent to control the mob.”
She also questioned the security forces’ version that they had fired in self-defence. “Was anybody injured? We have no proof. This is an incompetent government, an incompetent Prime Minister and an incompetent Home Minister,” she said.
According to police, local residents stormed the polling station in Sitalkuchi during the fourth phase of polls following rumours in the area that a boy had been beaten by CISF personnel. Police said the boy had, in fact, fallen ill and been taken to hospital.
The dead were identified as Hamidul Mian (31), Monirujjaman Mian (28), Noor Alam Mian (20) and Samiul Haq (18), all from Jorpatki village. In a separate incident in Sitalkuchi, a first-time voter, Anand Barman (18), was shot dead, allegedly by miscreants, when he queued up to vote at a polling booth in Pathantuli.
On Sunday, Banerjee could not reach Sitalkuchi due to an order from the Election Commission barring politicians from visiting the area for 72 hours following the incident. She described the decision as “unfortuate” and accused the Election Commission of “suppressing facts”.
Taking to Twitter, Banerjee wrote: “EC should rename MCC as Modi Code of Conduct! BJP can use all its might but NOTHING in this world can stop me from being with my people and sharing their pain. They can restrict me from visiting my brothers and sisters in Cooch Behar for 3 days but I WILL be there on the 4th day!”
West Bengal BJP president Ghosh demanded the registration of a case against Banerjee for instigating people against security forces on poll duty.
“From where have so many “dustu chelera” (bad boys) come? Those who received bullets in Cooch Behar’s Sitalkuchi yesterday, these bad boys will not remain in Bengal. This is only a beginning. Those who thought that CAPF carry guns just for show are mistaken. If anyone takes the law into his hands, he will receive a befitting reply. The central forces will be deployed in booths and no one will be allowed to threaten them. If things go out of hand, there will be a Sitalkuchi in many places, so beware,” Ghosh said while addressing a public meeting at Baranagar in North 24 Parganas district.
Speaking earlier, Ghosh accused Banerjee of “trying to disrupt the electoral process”. “She is instigating ordinary people against the security forces so that she can gain political dividends. She is committing a crime and she should be held accountable. A case must be registered against her for trying to incite violence. Secondly her election campaign must be stopped, otherwise there cannot be a free and fair election,” he said.
TMC MP Sougata Roy hit back at Ghosh. “Four persons were killed and look at the kind of statements being made on this. It seems Hitler’s soul is saying such things. The BJP is a Fascist party which Dilip Ghosh proved today with his remarks. This is the philosophy of the BJP and RSS on speaking about killings,” said Roy.
The CPI(M) demanded the resignations of Shah and Banerjee. “They should take moral responsibility for the incident,” said politburo member Mohammed Salim.
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