Four people were killed as CISF personnel were forced to open fire after coming under attack from miscreants allegedly belonging to the ruling Trinamool Congress (AITC) who “attempted to snatch their rifles” outside a polling booth in West Bengal‘s Cooch Behar district on Saturday.
“As per preliminary reports, four persons were killed as CISF personnel opened fire after coming under attack by locals in the area,” the Bengal ADGP said.
Sources said the incident took place at the polling booth in Sitalkuchi at around 10:00 am when a Quick Response Team (QRT) were allegedly attacked by unidentified persons.
“The clash broke out while the team, along with local police representatives, were clearing the Trinamool workers and supporters who were preventing voters from reaching polling booths. During this, a voter fell down and unidentified miscreants started to damage the vehicle of QRT. Following this, five rounds were fired by the CISF. Further, the Mathabanga police under District Cooch Behar is assessing the situation,” sources said.
Reacting to the incident, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress head Mamata Banerjee said, “The worst fears have come true”.
“We have been saying that the home ministry has been influencing the central forces and our worst fears have come true today. They have killed four people,” Mamata Banerjee said.
Election Commission seeks report on CISF firing
Following the violence at the polling booth, the Election Commission has sought a report within an hour from DEO Cooch Behar.
“We have received information that a person was shot dead outside a polling booth in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district. We have sought a report from the micro-observer as soon as possible and the returning officer was called up to know about the situation,” an election official said.
Trinamool, BJP blame each other
While the AITC alleged that the BJP was behind the killing, the opposition party claimed that the dead man was its polling agent at the booth and pointed the accusing finger at the ruling party in the state.
In a statement released by the AITC, the Mamata Banerjee-led party blamed “BJP miscreants” for the incident.
“Since morning, BJP miscreants were blocking people’s right to vote while CRPF (CISF?) was influencing voters to vote in favour of BJP. When Trinamool Congress 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 5 Trinamool Congress workers losing their lives,” the AITC said in the statement.
“It is also sad that the Election Commission has still not come out with response on this dastardly attack. We strongly register our protest against this police-ordered killing. Shameful that the forces are acting like goons in uniform.”
Meanwhile, Sitalkuchi’s BJP candidate Baren Chandra Barman said that the dead man was the party’s polling agent at the booth and AITC activists were behind the murder.
“He was our polling agent and was going to the booth when Trinamool goons shot him dead. Rabindra Nath Ghosh’s claim is a total lie. We have informed the SP and the ECI about the incident, demanding immediate arrest of the culprits,” Barman said. He claimed that police or central forces were not present near the booth when the killing took place.
Addressing a huge rally at Krishnanagar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Today, Didi (Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) is cursing the Election Commission, the central paramilitary forces as well as the EVM. So much so, her people are abusing the Scheduled Castes. Staring at her defeat, Didi is suffering from depression.”