EC trying to suppress facts by barring entry of politicians in Cooch Behar: Mamata

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(Eds: with more inputs) Siliguri, Apr 11 (PTI) Describing the incident of firing in Cooch Behar as 'genocide', West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday said the Election Commission has restricted the entry of politicians in the district for 72 hours as it seeks to 'suppress facts'.

The TMC supremo, while addressing a press meet here, claimed that central forces 'sprayed bullets aiming at the torso of the victims' in Sitalkuchi area, when the fourth phase of polling was underway in the state.

'The Sitalkuchi episode was nothign short of genocide.

I would like to visit Sitalkuchi by April 14. The EC is trying to suppress facts by restricting entry in Cooch Behar. We have an incompetent home minister and an incompetent central government,' Banerjee alleged.

Four persons died on Saturday in Sitalkuchi area of Cooch Behar when CISF personnel opened fire allegedly after coming under attack from locals, who 'attempted to snatch their rifles', the police had said.

'The CISF doesn't know how to handle situations. Since the first phase of elections, I had been saying that a section of the central forces are committing atrocities on people. I had flagged the issue in Nandigram, but none paid attention to my words,' she said.

The EC is working in the interest of just one political party, she insisted.

'It (poll panel) is changing the well-established rules laid down for elections. I have great respect for the EC, but the recent developments make me sad,' she said.

Banerjee further noted that there is a set of standard procedures for controlling a mob.

'None of these procedures were followed in Cooch Behar. No attempt was made to burst tear gas shells or lathicharge the mob,' the chief minister stated.

The feisty TMC chief also spoke to the brother of one of the deceased over a video call, in the midst of the press meet, and promised help to the bereaved family.

The man, on his part, was heard saying that the jawans had opened fire on the voters.

'He (one of the four killed in firing) was standing in a queue when the jawans opened fire. His wife is pregnant and they also have a three-year-old child. Our parents are shocked beyond words,' the man told the CM.

Banerjee asked a local TMC leader, who made arrangements for the video chat from Sitalkuchi, to send her copy of the FIR filed in connection with the incident.

Pointing out that state administration will have to seek the consent of the poll panel before announcing any financial help for the affected, she further said that her party's 'youth workers will donate Rs 100 each to create a fund for the next of kin of the deceased in Sitalkuchi'.

The CM gave assurances that she would also personally offer financial aid to the victims' families.

'I will be addressing election meetings today, but with a heavy heart. The episode keeps haunting me. Let me take charge again, I will initiate a CID probe into the incident,' the CM said, adding that party workers will stage protests against the incident across the state.

Earlier in the day, taking to Twitter, Banerjee, in a jibe at the poll panel, also said that the 'EC should rename MCC (Model Code of Conduct) as Modi Code of Conduct!' 'BJP can use all its might but NOTHING in this world can stop me from being with my people & sharing their pain.

They can restrict me from visiting my brothers & sisters in Cooch Behar for 3 days but I WILL be there on the 4th day!' she posted on the microblogging site. PTI SUS RMS RMS