Bharatiya Janata Party West Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh on Sunday said there will be more “Sitalkuchi-like instances”, wherein central forces opened fire on voters, if the “bad boys” of Trinamool Congress do not behave in future.
On Saturday, four persons were killed when Central Armed Police Force personnel opened fire at a polling booth in Sitalkuchi, Cooch Behar district, after some locals allegedly clashed with them. On the same day, another person was shot dead outside a polling booth in the same district by unidentified men.
At a rally on Sunday, Ghosh said that what happened in Sitalkuchi “was just the beginning”.
“Those who think that the central forces carry guns just for show are mistaken,” he said while campaigning for party candidate Parno Mitra in Baranagar. “If anyone takes law into his own hands, he will receive a befitting reply. Central forces will be deployed in booths. No one can scare you. We are there. And if anyone does, you saw what happened at Sitalkuchi. We will repeat the same everywhere.”
He claimed that women were not safe under Trinamool Congress’ rule. “Parents are worried when their daughters go out for tuition,” he added. “Women are harassed in markets. But when you complain, the chief minister calls them “bad boys”. How and from where did so many bad boys come? It was those “bad boys” who were killed in Sitalkuchi. Such bad boys will not be in Bengal.”
Ghosh also demanded a case against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for instigating the people against security forces on poll duty in Bengal. He said that she should not be allowed to campaign in the state any more, according to The Indian Express.
The state BJP chief said that Banerjee was upset with the Election Commission for banning the entry of political leaders for 72 hours in Cooch Behar. “All her life, she has practiced the politics of complaining,” Ghosh added. “She wanted to go to Cooch Behar to sit with the bodies on the road and urge people to vote. But the Election Commission did the right thing. That is why she is upset. She has realised that people will not vote for her.”
The Trinamool Congress said that the four people who were killed on Saturday belonged to the party, and alleged a large conspiracy behind the attack. But the Election Commission ruled out any such possibility, saying the security forces had no option but to open fire to save their lives and government property.
Hours after the violence, the poll panel also banned politicians from entering Cooch Behar district for the next three days. Additionally, it extended the silence period for the next phase of the West Bengal elections, which is scheduled to take place on April 17, from 48 hours to 72 hours. This will cut short the campaigning period.
Banerjee said the episode amounted to a genocide, and also accused the Election Commission of trying to suppress facts related to the killings. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, in turn, accused her of politicising the deaths, alleging that it was Banerjee who provoked violence in the first place.