Mamata appeals for calm, alleges CRPF opened fire on voters standing queue

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Hingalganj, Apr 10 (PTI) Appealing to people to remain calm, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday alleged armed central police shot dead people standing in a queue to vote in Sitalkuchi.

The chief minister speaking at at a public meeting here, asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah to explain why five lives were lost in central forces' firing in Sitalkuchi in Coochbehar district during fourth phase of polling.

Claiming she had long apprehended such a situation after watching the 'high handedness' of central forces for long, Banerjee said 'after killing so many people they (Election Commission) are saying the firing was in self defence. They should feel ashamed.This is a lie.' 'The CRPF opened fire on people standing in a queue to vote, killing 4 in Sitalkuchi. I have been apprehending that the forces' would act in such manner for long. As BJP knows it has lost the people's mandate, they are conspiring to kill people,' Banerjee charged.

She alleged this was part of a conspiracy hatched by the Union home minister.

'However, I would ask everyone to remain calm and cast their vote peacefully. Avenge the deaths by defeating them,' she said.

Banerjee said that the death toll in this election was far higher than that in the Panchayat elections held three years ago. 'If you count the total number of killings since the elections began some 17-18 persons were killed. At least 12 people belonged to our party alone.' Banerjee said the EC owed the people an explanation on today's incident.

'We are not in charge of the administration. The EC is in charge of administration,' she pointed out.

'They have removed the senior IPS Surajit Kar Purakaystha. They have removed my OSD Ashok Chakraborty, who is a lower ranked retired officer from RPF. Yet the EC bringing in retired officers to oversee polls here,' she said.