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4 Killed in Cooch Behar in Firing By CISF, EC Says ‘Self-Defence’

The EC also banned the entry of politicians in Cooch Behar for 72 hours to prevent possible law and order flare up.

Updated
West Bengal
4 min read
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After four people were killed in a firing by central forces on Saturday, 10 April as voting was underway in polling station 126 of the Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency in West Bengal's Cooch Behar, the Election Commission said that the CISF had to fire in order to save lives of voters who came to vote.

“Recourse to open fire by CISF personnel became absolutely necessary in order to save lives of voters lined up at the polling booth, those of other polling personnel and their own lives as mob had attempted snatching their weapons,” the Election Commission said in a statement.

The EC earlier adjourned the polling at the station and sought a detailed report from the Chief Electoral Officer.

The EC also banned the entry of politicians in Cooch Behar for 72 hours to prevent possible law and order flare up.

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What Happened?

At least four people died on Saturday as Central forces opened fire after purportedly coming under attack in Sitalkuchi. The Trinamool Congress has claimed that those who were shot dead were its workers.

Superintendent of Police, Cooch Behar, made a statement on Saturday saying that the CISF firing was in self-defence. He stated that a man fell unconscious and was being treated in front of the booth, but the villagers assumed he was injured by the CISF.

This led to a crowd of 300-350 people allegedly attacking the CISF by trying to snatch their rifles, use of handmade weapons, and other such acts, he added.

The CISF personnel got into a scuffle with the villagers, after which the firing started. So far, four people have lost their lives, confirmed the SP.

What the CISF Said

In a statement, a CISF spokesperson said that the crowd tried o snatch weapons of the personnel, following which the action was taken in self-defence.

“Mob outside booth no 126, Jorpatki in Sitalkuchi (West Bengal) attacked CISF jawans performing poll duty and tried to snatch their weapons. In self-defence and to save polling officials, jawans deployed at the polling station fired 6-8 rounds,” he said.

TMC, BJP Approach EC Blaming Each Other

In a strongly worded complaint to the Election Commission, the TMC said that the only fault of those injured and deceased was participating in a free democratic election, which is being conducted by the EC.

The incumbent SP was replaced by the EC ahead of the elections, for reasons still not clear, alleged the TMC, asking what action would be taken against him and the Central Armed Police Force.

“The conduct of the ECI is such that it appears to be under the command of the BJP. They are facilitating violence sponsored by BJP and executed by CAPF, who in turn seem to have been instructed well by the star campaigner of the BJP - Home Minister, Government of India,” stated the letter.

The letter noted that in the first, second and third phase of elections, the TMC has raised 6, 18 and 134 complaints, all of which to no-effect. There has been no tangible action taken so far, however, TMC supremo Banerjee was slapped with notices from the EC.

The letter concluded by asking what action will be taken against the senior EC officials for “this act of murder.”

A BJP delegation too approached the EC, alleging CM Mamata Banerjee’s ‘provocation’ as the reason behind the incident.

“In my opinion, these incidents happened because of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s old statement calling for gherao of Central forces,” BJP MP Jyotirmay Singh Mahato said, as quoted by ANI.
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Mamata, PM Modi React

A TMC statement on the incident said, "... When TMC workers went to enquire why people were not being allowed to vote, BJP miscreants launched an attack creating an atmosphere of chaos, following which CRPF open fired leading to... TMC workers losing their lives."

The incident was also brought up by both West Bengal CM and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The CRPF has shot dead four people in Sitalkuchi today. There was another death in the morning. The CRPF is not my enemy, but there's a conspiracy going around under the instruction of Home Minister and today's incident is a proof,” Banerjee was quoted as saying.

Speaking at a rally in Siliguri, Banerjee said, “Home Minister Amit Shah is completely responsible for today’s incident and he himself is the conspirator. I don’t blame central forces because they work under home minister’s order. I believe, this incident (firing incident in Cooch Behar) is pre-planned. I will order an investigation into the matter,” quoted ANI.

Banerjee said that she will be visiting the site where the incident took place on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in another rally in Siliguri, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to families of the deceased, and called for the poll body to take stern action against those responsible.

"Didi (Mamata Banerjee) and her goons are perturbed, seeing the people's support for BJP. She has stooped to this level as she can see her chair slipping away... I would like to tell Didi, TMC and their goons clearly that their ways will not be allowed to work in Bengal... Didi, this violence, tactics of instigating people to attack the security forces, the tactics of obstructing the polling process will not protect you," he was quoted as saying.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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