Cooch Behar firing: Mamata questions self-defence version of

·4-min read

central forces, orders CID probe (Eds: With more quotes) Siliguri (WB), Apr 10 (PTI) Questioning the version that central forces fired on voters 'in self-defence' in Cooch Behar district killing four persons, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said that her government will initiate a CID probe into the incident.

Banerjee said that there is no video footage or any other proof to substantiate the claims of the central forces.

Four persons were killed as central forces opened fire allegedly after coming under attack from locals, who 'attempted to snatch their rifles' near a booth in Sitalkuchi constituency in North Bengal when polling was underway.

According to official sources, the preliminary report submitted by the EC's special police observer Vivek Dubey said that a huge mob of around 350-400 people had gheraoed the central forces, following which they fired in 'self-defence'.

'Where does this theory (of firing in self-defence) come from? Who was injured on their part? Is there any footage? After killing those people, they were supporting the act,' she told reporters at Siliguri, the largest city of North Bengal.

A CID probe will be initiated to find out the circumstances behind the incident, the CM added.

'The police are under the Election Commission now. But as the head of an elected government, it is my duty to order a probe by an organisation like the CID to find out who were behind the incident, how it took place and other details,' she said.

Banerjee demanded the resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the firing incident, and wondered whose 'direct interference into the functioning of the Election Commission and central forces' led to the excesses.

'Instead of lying that the security personnel fired in self-defence, the prime minister should have visited the Mathabhanga Hospital where the bodies are kept. He should have met the injured and the family of the deceased,' she said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an election meeting at Siliguri earlier in the day and extended his condolences to the bereaved families, besides urging the Election Commission to take action against those responsible for the incident.

Banerjee said that she would visit Mathabhanga Hospital on Sunday morning.

'The PM and the (Union) home minister are threatening us every day. It is Article 356 type situation in the state,' she said.

Article 356 of the Constitution is invoked to bring a state under President's Rule.

'The officers appointed by the EC ahead of the election are reporting to the union home ministry, not to the (state) government,' Banerjee said.

Describing this as a 'shameful act', she appealed to chief ministers of states ruled by non-NDA parties to see how the BJP is allegedly ruining democracy.

Banerjee said that Officer on Special Duty Ashok Chakraborty who was posted in her security was on Friday removed days after his retirement from the Railway Protection Force, EC Special Observer Vivek Dubey was brought back for the second time after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls despite his superannuation years back.

Wondering how many times Modi had visited other poll- bound states including Left-ruled Kerala, she said, 'They (BJP) are targeting Bengal as I am fighting the battle, a woman is fighting them alone.' On the EC's notice to her for allegedly violating the model code of conduct for her remarks on central forces, Banerjee said that she did not break any norm.

'I only appealed for fair election as security forces are terrorising people at the instruction of Amit Shah. I came across this in Nandigram (her constituency) during the second phase of polling,' she said.

She claimed that 18 people were killed in violence since the first phase on March 27 and 13 of them were TMC workers.

'They (EC) are accusing me of violating the model code while in reality, I am speaking against this spiral of violence,' Banerjee said.

'I am only asking people to come out to vote in large numbers. I am telling people that one vote will be the reply to one bullet. I am only insisting that the EC should not act in a one-sided manner,' she said.

Banerjee said that the TMC will hold demonstrations demanding Shah's resignation in every block of the state from 2 pm on Sunday. PTI SUS RBT NN NN