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Bengal facing twin challenges of Covid-19, post-poll violence: Guv Dhankhar

Governor Dhankhar said he was shocked by incidents of attack following the West Bengal assembly elections, and decided to visit various places affected by the post-poll violence in the interest of the people.
PTI |
PUBLISHED ON MAY 13, 2021 04:13 PM IST
West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. (HT file)

Claiming that people, who cast their votes as per their choice, are being subjected to attacks in West Bengal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday said while the country is facing the Covid crisis, the state is grappling with the twin challenges of the pandemic and the post-poll violence.

The governor said he was shocked by incidents of attack following the West Bengal assembly elections, and decided to visit various places affected by the post-poll violence in the interest of the people.

"The country is facing the Covid crisis, and West Bengal is facing twin challenges of the pandemic and unprecedented post-poll violence only on the ground that some people decided to vote as per their own choice," he said while embarking on a visit to various places in Cooch Behar district.

He said the Mamata Banerjee government must ensure that everyone who took the law into their hands must be brought to justice.

The opposition BJP has been accusing the Trinamool Congress of indulging in violence against their supporters, a charge which the ruling party has also brought against the saffron camp in the state.

"History will judge Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister. History will also judge Jagdeep Dhankhar, the governor, and it will judge the bureaucracy and the media," he said.

Claiming that he did not get any response from the state government despite efforts being made to get information about the post-poll violence, Dhankhar said the state government must provide him with the requisite particulars under Article 167 of the Constitution.

"I will perform my constitutional duties unhindered, undeterred by any situation whatsoever," he said.

The chief minister and the governor got involved in a war of words on Wednesday after Mamata Banerjee wrote to him claiming that his planned visit to the post-poll violence- affected Cooch Behar district violates norms, while Dhankhar hit back saying he was discharging duties mandated by the Constitution.

"I find from social media that you are unilaterally proceeding to Cooch Behar district on May 13, and sadly, I find that to be violative of the long-standing norms as evolved over several decades.

"I, therefore, would expect you will kindly follow the well-established norms of protocol, and desist from abrupt decisions with regards to field visits," Banerjee said in a letter to the governor.

Soon after receiving the letter, Dhankhar wrote back saying that he has been following the Constitution since taking oath as the governor and his visit to Cooch Behar was to share the pain and agony of the people suffering from post-poll violence.

Speaking to reporters at the Cooch Behar airport after alighting from a BSF helicopter by which he travelled from Kolkata, the governor claimed that the chief minister, who took oath on May 5, has full power to control the situation.

He claimed that those who did not give political support to the ruling party were subjected to attacks and atrocities, and women and children of their families were also not spared.

Claiming that the post-poll situation in the state took a grim turn owing to the "unfortunate behaviour of the chief minister", the governor alleged, "During the elections, she had publicly said the central armed police force will not be there always and she will see after that.

"This kind of challenge and behaviour is not acceptable under the constitution," the governor said.

He urged the chief minister to make constructive decisions and said this is not the time for confrontation between the state and the Centre.

While Banerjee had termed the incident of firing by the CAPF in Sitalkuchi in which four persons were killed as "genocide", she "did not say a word about other violent events" in different parts of the state, Dhankhar alleged.

Five persons were killed, four of them in firing by central armed police force personnel and a first-time voter in firing by goons, at Sitalkuchi on April 10 during the fourth phase of the assembly poll in West Bengal.

Post-poll violence has been reported from various places in the state, with both the opposition BJP and the ruling TMC accusing each other of indulging in attacks on their workers.

Banerjee had on May 6 said 16 people have been killed in the recent clashes between the two parties.

Accusing the chief minister of being "partisan", he said that "she acts with a political goal in mind".

Dhankhar is scheduled to visit Sitalkuchi, Mathabhanga, Sitai and Dinhata in Cooch Behar district during the day.

The governor said he will on Friday visit camps in Assam where BJP workers, who reportedly fled from West Bengal owing to the post-poll violence, have been staying.

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