Forces opened fire in Cooch Behar to save lives: EC
The Election Commission said on Saturday that central forces had opened fire in the Cooch Behar district of West Bengal to save lives. A statement was released after the mindless violence in the Sitalkuchi constituency left four people dead. The incident, during the fourth phase of Assembly polls, had also triggered a war of words between the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
A misunderstanding led to violence, claimed EC
The EC said that two special observers submitted their joint report at 5:12 pm. The polling body revealed that a misunderstanding was sparked after personnel were helping a sick man. Some locals assumed that he was beaten by CISF personnel and arrived at the booth with 300-350 villagers. The agitated mob attacked the officers and even tried snatching their arms, EC claimed.
EC said personnel wanted to protect government property
"Faced with no other alternative, to save their lives and government property like EVM and other polling materials, the CISF personnel opened fire. As a result, four persons who got bullet injury succumbed to their injuries at the local Mathabhanga Sub-Divisional Hospital," the EC added.
Politicians have been barred from entering district for 72 hours
The commission added that since the last rites haven't been conducted, some politicians could pay a visit to the bereaved families to express grief. Saying that this can lead to a law and order problem, the EC banned politicians from entering the geographical boundaries of the district for 72 hours. Earlier, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said she would visit the area.
EC extended 'silence period' to 72 hours for fifth phase
Further, the EC extended the "silence period" for the next phase of polling, scheduled for April 17, from 48 hours to 72 hours. Besides the violence at booth number 126, another tragic incident was reported from the same constituency. An 18-year-old first-time voter was shot dead outside booth number 85 in Pathantuli (Sitalkuchi) after clashes broke out between TMC and BJP workers.
Banerjee promised to visit Cooch Behar on fourth day
This morning, Banerjee slammed the apex polling body over its ban on politicians' travel to Cooch Behar. She tweeted that BJP can use its might but won't stop her from sharing the "pain of her people." "They can restrict me from visiting my brothers & sisters in Cooch Behar for 3 days but I WILL be there on the 4th day, (sic)" she added.