Kolkata: “Many more Sitalkuchis will happen if the excesses continue. The naughty boys have received bullets, we will tell CRPF to shoot aiming the chest , not the feet...”Dilip Ghosh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president said afte the incident in Cooch Behar district where 4 persons dies in firing by central forces during elections recently.
As the deceased persons are all from Muslim community, BJP has started communalising the incident, saying it happened due to the “minority appeasement” politics of the state government run by the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
In the Pathantuli incident, an 18 year-old voter also allegedly died of bullet injuries while he was standing in queue to vote. Though both the incidents are not interconnected, Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah, at a rally, tried to link the two separate incidents, adding more fuel the fire, by reportedly saying that the first the youth was shot dead, after which 4 persons from minority community were killed in firing.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission on Sunday has barred West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and all political leaders from going to Sitalkuchi for the next 72 hours. Banerjee hit back saying the election model code of conduct has become the ‘Modi code of conduct’ while taking a jibe at the EC and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
At a press conference in Kolkata, Communist party of India (Marxist) leader Mohd Salim also expressed strong displeasure with the “politics of divisiveness and polarisation” being done by the BJP in West Bengal.
Salim raised questions, as to under whose directive were the Central forces operating, under the supervision of the Centre or the Election Commission?
The CPI(M) leader also took a jibe at the decision of the Election Commission to extend the silent period of the polls, asking who will silence the Prime Minister , Home Minister and Chief Minister of the state? “First, let the EC try and silence them,” he said.
Salim accused all three of “inciting the electorate by giving instigating speeches”, adding that on the one side, the EC was talking of curtailing the campaign period , while on the other side, the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Chief Minister were giving on air speeches on television channels.
Salim also sought the resignation of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Home Minister Amit Shah in light of the Sitalkuchi Incident.
The CPI(M) polit bureau leader also demanded withdrawal of the battalion which was involved in the firing incident in Sitalkuchi as well as a judicial probe into the incident and compensation to the families of the dead. He claimed that as that as Sangjukta Morcha was gaining ground, TMC and BJP were resorting to violence in these phases.
What had happened in 5/126 booth of Jor Pataki
According to eyewitnesses, high tension was palpable not only this booth but in all the booths in the surrounding areas since the morning on April 10, the polling day. Around 9 a.m, the first complaint was lodged, as TMC supporters were not letting any other polling agent to sit in the booth and even voters were being allegedly intimidated.
The section office, upon receiving the feedback, passed it on to the Quick Response Team (QRT). The area where the voters were being allegedly intimidated was an intersection on the road, a little away from the booth, said eyewitnesses. That is when the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) began a cat and mouse game with the people, during which there was lathi-charge in which one youth, Mrinal Islam, was injured andwas taken to hospital by the QRT.
It was then that some hoodlums broke open a CISF vehicle, following which the CISF opened fire in the air to control the mob, said eyewitnesses, adding that after an hour or so, about 150 irate villagers surrounded CISF jawans , who fired two rounds in the air to disperse them, which failed . Then they fired 15 rounds (version of police observer Ashiwini Kumar submitted in his report to the EC ) . The presiding officer of the booth, Abdul Mia, however, said he did not order police firing udring the incident.
It may be noted that since the past one year, Sitalkuchi has become sharply polarised due to competitive communal politics being played by TMC and BJP.