Will initiate probe into Cooch Behar killings to track, punish culprits: Mamata

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(Eds: Adds more details) Mathabhanga (WB), Apr 14 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday met family members of those killed in CISF firing during the fourth phase of assembly elections, assuring them of a probe that will track down and bring the culprits to book.

Banerjee lamented that she could not meet the next of kin of the deceased earlier, owing to a 72-hour ban on entry of political leaders in Cooch Behar, where four people were gunned down by CISF personnel in 'self defence', on April 10.

'Our inquiry will track everyone responsible for the cold-blooded killing and ensure they are punished as per law,' she said.

Banerjee had last week said shortly after the incident that the state government will initiate a CID probe into the killings.

The CM said she will also ensure justice for the family of Ananda Burman, an 18-year-old first-time voter who was shot dead outside a polling booth in the same district.

The Trinamool Congress supremo interacted with the family members of all the deceased, including the widows and parents of the four killed in firing, and the grandfather and maternal uncle of Burman.

'I will come again immediately after the elections are over (May 2). We will help you in every possible way,' she said.

The chief minister also said a martyrs' column will be built in memory of the five who lost their lives.

Four people were killed Cooch Behar's Sitalkuchi as central forces opened fire amid polling for the fourth phase allegedly after coming under attack from locals, who 'attempted to snatch their rifles', police had said.

Following the violence, the Election Commission put in place restrictions, including extending the 'silence period' from 48 hours to 72 hours, for the fifth phase of elections, and barred the entry of politicians in the district for the next 72 hours from April 10, to prevent any possible law and order flare-up.

The killings had triggered a political storm in West Bengal, with Banerjee calling it a 'genocide' while Union Home Minister Amit Shah warning her against engaging in 'appeasement politics' over bodies.

Shah also alleged that Banerjee's advice to gheraeo central forces had instigated people to attack the CISF personnel, which led to incident. PTI SUS RBT RBT