Mamata calls Cooch Behar killings 'genocide', Shah warns her against 'appeasement politics' over bodies

·4-min read

(Eds: Rpt after replacing while with and in intro)) Kolkata/Siliguri, Apr 11 (PTI) The killing of four persons in CISF firing at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district has triggered a political storm in West Bengal, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Sunday calling it a 'genocide' and Union Home Minister Amit Shah warning her against doing 'appeasement politics' over bodies.

The TMC chief said the Election Commission's decision to bar the entry of politicians in Cooch Behar district for 72 hours was aimed at 'suppressing facts' and asserted she will visit the area by April 14.

'There was genocide at Sitalkuchi. I would like to visit the area 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 said launching no-holds barred attack on the BJP-led government at the centre.

The feisty TMC chief also spoke to the brother of one of the deceased over a video call, who was heard saying that the jawans had opened fire on the voters standing in a queue.

Four persons died as CISF personnel opened fire allegedly after coming under attack from locals, who 'attempted to snatch their rifles' while voting was underway in Sitalkuchi on Saturday.

Wreaths were laid on the bodies, draped in TMC flags, at the spot where the incident took place, following which they were buried.

Shah, on the other hand, alleged that Banerjee's advice to gheraeo central forces had instigated people to attack the CISF personnel, which led to the killings.

'Mamata had advised people to gheraeo central forces.

Is that not responsible for the deaths in Sitalkuchi? Her advice had instigated the people to attack the CISF. She has given rise to the situation of firing,' Shah told reporters after a roadshow in Shantipur in Nadia district.

He also said that he will resign if people of the country and West Bengal as him to do so, while asserting that Banerjee will have to quit on May 2, when the results of the assembly elections will be declared.

The TMC chief has demanded Shah's resignation over the Cooch Behar killings, the latest flashpoint between rival TMC and BJP which is expected to have its bearing on the next four phases of the elections for the 294-member Bengal house.

Her party also took out massive protest rallies across the state, naming him as the conspirator of the incident, senior party leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said.

'Didi has been asking for my resignation, I will resign when the people ask me to, but you remain prepared to surely put in your papers on May 2,' Shah said at a public meeting at Basirhat in North 24 Parganas.

'If the people of the country and West Bengal ask for my resignation, I am ready to do so with my head bowed,' he said.

Apart from the four deaths in what the CISF described as a 'self-defence action', a BJP worker was also shot dead by unidentified persons in the same Sitalkuchi assembly constituency during the fourth phase of voting on Saturday.

Shah alleged that Banerjee did appeasement politics by paying tributes to the people killed in the CISF firing but did not condole the death of the BJP worker, identified as Anand Barman, as he was from the Rajbongshi community who are not her vote bank.

'Didi is shedding tears for the four persons who died in the CISF firing but not for the fifth man. She is not even taking his name. No chief minister should do this. All deaths are equally unfortunate,' he said.

Shah said no TMC worker will be killed after the BJP assumes power in West Bengal and strict action will be taken if any such incident takes place.

Banerjee, while addressing a rally at Baneswar in Cooch Behar district on April 7, had alleged that CRPF personnel were harassing and killing people at Shah's behest.

She had advised people to 'form groups to gherao central forces and keep them busy by talking to them', while others will quickly go to polling stations and cast their votes.

Noting that polling in the four phases was by and large peaceful, Shah appealed to all the political parties to abide by the Election Commission rules in the next four phases.

He claimed that five BJP workers have died during the ongoing elections but Banerjee has not issued a statement.

Meanwhile, state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh courted fresh controversy by saying that more Cooch Behar-like killings may happen in the next phase of assembly elections on April 17 if 'naughty boys like the ones who died in Sitalkuchi' try to take the law into their hands.

'Naughty boys received bullets at Sitalkuchi. If anyone dares to take the law into his hands, this will happen to him also,' Ghosh said without elaborating on the phrase 'naughty boys'.

'The naughty boys, who had presumed that the rifles of the central forces were just for a show during election duty, will not dare repeat the same mistake after seeing what happened in Sitalkuchi,' he said, while addressing an election rally at Baranagar in North 24 Parganas district. PTI AMR SCH SUS COR RMS ACD SNS SNS SK SK