Mamata 'silent' on fifth person’s death, says Shah on Cooch Behar poll violence
Union home minister Amit Shah on Sunday accused West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee of “politicising” the poll violence in Cooch Behar during Saturday’s fourth phase of assembly elections in the eastern state. Five people, including an 18-year-old first-time voter, were killed in two separate incidents of poll-related violence in Cooch Behar.
Addressing the media after a roadshow in Santipur, Shah said, “An unfortunate incident took place yesterday during the polling for the fourth phase of assembly elections in Bengal. A polling booth was attacked by some miscreants. They tried to snatch the weapons of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) but when the CAPF was forced to fire, four people lost their lives. It’s an unfortunate incident.”
Four people were killed when a Quick Reaction Team (QRT) of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) fired in the air after it was surrounded by a mob during polling in the West Bengal Assembly Election 2021. In a press conference later in the day, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said that the troopers were forced to fire to “save the lives of the voters, those of other polling personnel, as well as their own.”
Shah also alleged that the incident was being “politicised.” He added, “In the morning, a voter by the name of Anand Burman was shot dead at the same polling booth. But Mamata Didi condoled only the deaths of the other four people. Appeasement and vote bank politics even in death, shows how much she has degraded the politics in West Bengal.” Burman, the first-time voter, was killed earlier in the day on Saturday, while the other incident took place at around 9:30am.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader also said that while any death was “unfortunate,” Burman’s killing was not condoled because he was not Banerjee’s “vote bank.” Shah also referred to a speech given by Banerjee in which she asked voters to “block” the central forces. “Mamata Didi still has time. The fifth person who lost his life, she should condole his death as well,” he said.
Except for these incidents, Shah said, the polling took place “peacefully” in West Bengal. While the voting in the Sitalkuchi assembly constituency, where the killings took place, was adjourned, the poll body late on Friday ordered a ban on the visit of any political leader in Cooch Behar “with immediate effect” for the next 72 hours. Banerjee was scheduled to visit the district on Sunday to meet the victims’ families.
Four of the eight phases of the West Bengal Assembly Elections have been conducted in the state so far. The last round will take place on April 29. Counting of votes and declaration of results are scheduled to be held on May 2.