Elections 2021

Modi slams Didi for ‘politicising’ deaths in Cooch Behar firing

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on April 17, 2021

Chief MinisterMamata Banerjee speaks to families of the deceased and the injured in the Sitalkuchi clash   -  -

BJP releases ‘audio clip’; TM says CM’s office being tapped

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday attacked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for “trying to politicise” the death of four people at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar and gain “political mileage” out of it.

On April 10, when the fourth phase of the polling was on in the State, the Central forces had “opened fire” at a polling booth in self-defence, leading to the death of four people.

An audio clip was released on Friday by the BJP in which Banerjee was allegedly asking the Trinamool’s Sitalkuchi candidate “not to release the body of her workers” to family members.

‘Phone tapped’

She is alleged to have elaborated a complete political programme that included taking out rallies with the bodies, filing of FIRs by a lawyer, framing the district Superintendent of Police and the officer in-charge of the local police station.

While the BJP has claimed that the plans could have fomented communal trouble, the Trinamool Congress countered that the Chief Minister’s phone was being “tapped”.

Referring to this audio clip, whose veracity is yet to be ascertained, the Prime Minister said that it made it amply clear that “there were plans to politicise the killings”. “People have died. But Didi is busy drawing political mileage from it. Politicising deaths is unacceptable,” he said at a rally in West Bengal’s Asansol.

Alleging that Trinamool has unleashed a “mafia raaj” on the people, Modi said this will soon come to an end with “asol poriborton” (real change).

Later in the day, Modi, while addressing another public rally at Gangarampur in Dakshin Dinajpur, alleged that Mamata’s focus had shifted from governance and development of the State to “development of her nephew” (Abhishek). Listing out the slurs that had been hurled on him by the Chief Minister, Modi said it he “will remain undeterred despite these verbal attacks” and continue to speak for the poor.

Sporadic violence

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported at some the 45 Assembly constituencies that went to polls today. The turnout was 78.36 per cent, till 5 pm on Saturday.

The VIP township of Salt Lake witnessed clashes between TMC and BJP workers. Once a TMC stronghold, the BJP has made inroads here with the switch over of Sabyasachi Dutta, former mayor of the township. The clashes were restricted to the bordering shanties. Violence was reported in parts of North 24 Parganas. Gherao of some BJP candidates was dismissed as one-off incidents.

In Deganga, there were rumours of Central forces opening fire. A report on the same has been sought by the poll body. According to Election Commission officials, polling was largely peaceful across the six districts that include Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri, North 24 Parganas, Nadia and Purba Badhaman.

Published on April 17, 2021

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