BJP, TMC spar over Cooch Behar deaths; PM blames Banerjee
After the fourth phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal was mired in violence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a sharp attack on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress party. Speaking at a rally on Saturday, he also condoled the loss of five lives. Likewise, the ruling TMC held Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the central forces responsible for the bloodshed. Here's what happened.
Central forces opened fire after they were attacked, said cop
Revealing what happened at booth number 126 in the Sitalkuchi constituency of the district, police officer Debashish Dhar said that polling was going on smoothly until one voter fainted. Soon rumors were spread that he was assaulted by central forces. "Crowds then gathered and they tried snatching weapons from the CISF troops," Dhar told reporters, adding that the personnel opened fire in retaliation.
Separately, a first-time voter was shot dead in Pathantuli
In another incident, an 18-year-old first-time voter, identified as Ananda Barman, was shot dead right outside booth number 85 in Pathantuli (Sitalkuchi), after clashes broke out between TMC and BJP workers. BJP has claimed that Barman was a party worker while the ruling TMC asserted that he was shot dead by the saffron party members. Two people have been arrested in connection to this case.
Condoling deaths, PM Modi said Didi's regime is nearing end
As he expressed grief over the mindless violence and deaths, PM Modi slammed Banerjee. "My condolences are with their family members. Didi and her goons have become jittery seeing the people's support in favor of the BJP. Seeing her rule coming to an end, Didi has stooped to this level," he said. He also requested the EC to take stern action against the miscreants.
Meanwhile, Banerjee demanded Amit Shah's resignation
The TMC matriarch blamed Home Minister Amit Shah for what transpired. She clarified that she doesn't see the central forces as her enemy but "a conspiracy is going around under the instruction of Home Minister and today's incident is a proof." She has also demanded Shah's resignation. "The BJP knows it won't win so it's resorting to bombs and violence," she asserted.
TMC also wrote a strongly-worded letter to EC
Notably, TMC has also written to the EC, terming the deaths a "cold-blooded murder." The party berated the polling body, saying that when Banerjee questioned the conduct of central forces, she was slapped with a show-cause notice instead. It sought to know what action is being contemplated against the "errant CAPF, its hierarchy, and the SP of Cooch Behar (appointed by the ECI)?"
Initial report suggested locals had gheraoed central forces
The apex polling body has sought a report on the incident and also halted polling at booth number 126. A preliminary report submitted by the EC's special police observer Vivek Dubey claims that a 350-400 people-strong crowd had gheraoed the central forces, prompting them to fire in "self-defense," states PTI. A repoll is expected to be ordered in the upcoming days.