‘Pre-planned’: Mamata seeks Amit Shah's resignation over Cooch Behar deaths
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday called for the resignation of Union home minister Amit Shah's over the death of four people in two separate firing incidents in the Sitalkuchi constituency of the Cooch Behar district during the fourth phase of polling in the state. Police have said the four people were killed as central forces allegedly fired after coming under attack from local residents, who tried snatch their rifles, prompting the Election Commission of India to stop voting at polling station number 126 in Sitalkuchi.
Mamata also questioned the central forces' version of firing on voters in self-defence in Sitalkuchi and said her government will initiate a probe into the incident. Banerjee said there is no video footage or any other proof to substantiate claims of the central forces.
Also watch: PM Modi vs Mamata Banerjee over Cooch Behar violence
She sought Amit Shah’s resignation while addressing poll rallies in North 24 Parganas and Siliguri. “I believe, this incident is pre-planned… Home minister Amit Shah is completely responsible for today's incident and he himself is the conspirator. I don't blame central forces because they work under the home minister's order,” the West Bengal chief minister said in Siliguri “Shah should resign owing responsibility for the incident which is dastardly, cold-blooded and unprecedented," the Trinamool Congress chief said.
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Banerjee, speaking at a public meeting at Baduria in North 24 Parganas, said she would be leaving for Cooch Behar after attending rallies, and would visit the spot where CISF personnel opened fire during polling in the fourth phase. She said the TMC will take out protest rallies throughout the state on Sunday and asked activists to wear black badges and demonstrate peacefully from 2pm to 4pm. "However, I would ask everyone to remain calm and cast their vote peacefully. Avenge the deaths by defeating them," Banerjee said.
The deaths in Cooch Behar has prompted a war of words between the ruling TMC and the Bharatiya Janata Party. While the BJP alleged that Trinamool workers were behind the attacks, the TMC has refuted the allegations saying that it was an internal fight between the opposition party’s old timers and new comers. A delegation of the BJP met officials of the poll body over the deaths in Sitalkuchi and the Trinamool Congress wrote to the state’s chief electoral officer, alleging " old-blooded murder of four and brutal injury of three innocent people by the central forces."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also attacked Mamata over the deaths and said what happened in Cooch Behar is very unfortunate. “Didi [West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee] and her goons have become jittery seeing the people’s support in favour of the BJP. Seeing her regime coming to an end, Didi has stooped down to this level,” he said at a rally at Siliguri.
PM Modi said the whims of TMC, its goons, and Didi would not work in Bengal. “I urge the EC to take stern actions against the guilty in the Cooch Behar case. This violence, inciting people against the central forces and creating hindrances in the poll process would not be able to save you Didi,” he added.
The fourth phase of polling was held in 44 assembly constituencies spread across five districts of West Bengal and the fifth phase will take place on April 17. Votes will be counted on May 2.
(With agency inputs)