EC notice to Mamata Banerjee over remarks against central forces

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New Delhi, Apr 9 (PTI) The Election Commission has issued a notice to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her prima facie 'completely false, provocative and intemperate statements' against central armed police forces deputed on election duty in the state, saying her remarks are demoralising the personnel.

The notice issued on Thursday night said the Trinamool Congress leader prima facie violated various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Model Code of Conduct with her remarks against the central forces.

The chief minister has been asked to respond to the notice by 11 am on Saturday.

'... prima facie, completely false, provocative and intemperate statements made by Mamata Banerjee... attempts to berate and vilify Central Paramilitary Forces during electoral process are causing extreme demoralisation amongst ranks and file of these forces, who have been rendering a yeoman's service since late 80s elections after elections and have made a commendable contribution, especially in ensuring area domination and causing deterrence for anti-social hooligans by their sheer presence thereby playing a major role in assisting ECI to conduct free, fair, transparent and accessible elections,' the notice read.

Citing her statements on central forces, the notice said 'Far more discouraging is the fact that Ms Banerjee has been trying to make an emotional pitch for women voters to go to the extent of inciting them to attack the personnel of CPFs (central police forces).

This is the second notice to Banerjee in the last few of days. On Wednesday it had issued her a notice over her alleged appeal for votes along communal lines, saying it was in violation of the model code and the Representation of the People Act.

The notice said going by the statements made by her on March 28 and April 7, 'and the historicity of the subsequent statements... it is more than obvious that Ms Banerjee... has been consistent in berating and demoralising the Central Para Military Forces, who often played a significant role in assisting concerned state government and governments of union territories in restoration of law and order ...' It said the Trinamool Congress and Banerjee have adopted a pattern to vilify the central forces.

'It is extremely unfortunate that political battles are thus sought to be fought in this manner instead of being fought in the campaign trail,' the EC observed.

Central forces have invariably done a commendable job on duties assigned to them in all sectors of the country to the extent of laying down their lives, the most recent being the tragic episode of Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, the notice said.

It said while various state and central agencies help the EC in conduct of polls, the praiseworthy role of central forces in ensuring free, fair, transparent and accessible elections merits a special mention.

'Ms Banerjee is perhaps not realising that this kind of statements can create a wedge of distrust between the state police of West Bengal, who are also doing their own duty with the central forces, instead of complementing each other.

'In fact, Ms Banerjee is sparing no efforts to ensure that a deep wedge and drift is created amongst them which is bound to have serious consequential damage even after the process of elections is over,' the unusually detailed notice said.

The EC said it is prima facie convinced that Banerjee's statements are in violation of Model Code of Conduct as well as sections 186, 189 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code.

While section 186 deals with obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions, section 189 deals with threat of injury to public servant.

Section 505 of the IPC deals with statements conducing to public mischief. PTI NAB DV DV