The Election Commission on Saturday released a statement clarifying, “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 & their own lives as the mob had attempted snatching their weapons”.
Recourse to open fire by bCISF personnel became absolutely necessary in order to save lives of voters lined up at the polling booth, those of other polling personnel & their own lives as mob had attempted snatching their weapons: Election Commission on Sitalkuchi firing incident pic.twitter.com/Pc1XiPOtnU— ANI (@ANI) April 10, 2021
The statement comes after the violence and unrest gripped the Cooch Behar area during the fourth phase of polling in West Bengal which shook the nation.
Shedding light on what transpired in the region, a police official said that the locals attacked CISF personnel outside a polling booth when they were tending to a voter who fell sick. Rumours of voters being heckled by CISF personnel spread like wildfire and within no time the locals attacked the security officials on duty.
“A scuffle took place, and locals ‘gheraoed’ them and attempted to snatch their rifles, following which the central forces opened fire. According to preliminary reports, four persons were killed as CISF personnel opened fire after coming under attack in a village,” informed the police official.
The Election Commission has ordered the Union Home Ministry to deploy 71 additional companies of Central Armed Police forces (CAPFs) in the state for the remaining four phases of polls amid rising tension.
It is imperative to note the attack took place just a day after the incumbent CM Mamata Banerjee addressed a public rally instructing, “If the Central forces, say CRPF or even the Bengal forces ask you not to cast your votes, tell them I will not listen to you. Lodge an FIR or diary against them. If the CRPF creates trouble, you, the women, gherao them totally. While one group will keep the forces gheraoed, another will go to cast your votes. Do not waste your votes anyway.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized Banerjee for instigating voters and blamed her party for perpetrating violence, he also requested the Election Commission to take stern action against those responsible for this unfortunate incident.
On the other hand, Mamata Banerjee released another scathing remark on the incident and yet again put the blame on as she calls ‘BJP’s CRPF jawans’. “After killing so many people, they (Election Commission) are saying the firing was in self-defence. They should feel ashamed.” “This is a lie…The central forces opened fire on people standing in the line for voting, killing 4 in Sitalkuchi. I had been apprehending the forces would act in such a manner for long. As the BJP knows it has lost the people’s mandate, they are conspiring to kill people,” Banerjee remarked at a rally in the North 24 Parganas district.
The Election Commission has sought a detailed report on the incident and has banned the entry of political leaders in Cooch Behar for 72 hours following the violence.
Fourth phase of polling marred with violence
The 4th phase of the West Bengal Vidhan Sabha polls was marred with unprecedented violence which resulted in casualties. The body of a BJP worker named Nanda Nashkar was found hanging at his residence in Sham Shandar Chowk in the Uluberia Purba district. The BJP has informed that the deceased was earlier attacked and given death threats by TMC goons.
In another fatal attack in Cooch Behar, an 18-year-old BJP supporter named Ananda Burman was gunned down by Trinamool Congress workers when he went to cast his vote at the polling station.
BJP leader Locket Chatterjee also came under attack on Saturday morning by an unruly mob that attacked her vehicle in the Hooghly district of West Bengal.
In another inhumane attack, a woman lost her toddler after a frenzied mob ambushed the polling booth in the Jorpatki area in Sitalkuchi Vidhan Sabha constituency of West Bengal, reported TV9 Bangla.
As per reports, the woman had entered the polling booth to cast her vote. Soon, a violent mob ambushed the polling booth leading to bombing, and gunfire. The police officials were highly outnumbered by the incoming mob. “When I was about to press the button, a fight broke out. There was bloodshed everywhere. I could not come out of the polling booth with my child,” the victim said. She recounted how miscreants had pulled her by the hair and snatched her child away.
“Where will I find my child now?” she asked. The woman, in tears, informed, “I don’t want any government. Here, several Muslim women had come with Dao (machete) to slice people. They threatened to kill my child if I don’t hand it over to them,” said the helpless mother.