Kolkata: Polling was adjourned at a polling booth in West Bengal's Cooch Behar district, after the death of four persons in the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) firing on Saturday during the fourth phase of the Assembly elections. The state recorded 76.16 per cent voter turnout till 5:30 pm across 44 constituencies in five districts in the violence-hit election.
A senior election official said that "re-polling will be held in booth no 126/5 in Sitalkuchi area" of the district, in view of the tragic incident.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has also banned the entry of politicians in Cooch Behar district for the next 72 hours to prevent possible law and order flare up.
"Going by the interim report of the special observer, the EC decided to stop the polling process at Jorpatki booth no 126/5 in Sitalkuchi area of Cooch Behar district. Further enquiry is on. There will be re-polling..." he said.
State Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab said that he has sought reports from the district magistrates.
A preliminary report submitted at the office of Aftab stated that CISF had to open fire near a booth in Sitalkuchi in "self defence" as they felt threatened by a mob of 350 people that gheraoed them.
According to the official, Deputy Election Commissioner in-charge of Bengal Sudeep Jain has asked for a detailed report and video grabs of the incident from Aftab.
Meanwhile, the CISF has issued a statement saying the troops were first attacked by a mob.
A senior police officer in Cooch Behar said a misunderstanding led to the incident. Around 400 people had rushed to the polling station after a rumour that one person has been shot dead by central forces spread like wildfire, he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demanded immediate resignation of the Union Home Minister Amit Shah for instigating violence during polls.
“Seeing the high-handedness of the central forces I have warned people a long back. Despite this atrocity the Election Commission of India didn’t take any action. Amit Shah who runs the Election Commission of India should immediately resign,” said Mamata.
The Bengal CM also said that the Election Commission of India (ECI) should give an explanation on the incident to people adding that she would initiate a CID probe into the incident.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi from a public rally at Siliguri claimed that the CRPF had resorted to open fire in self-defense.
“It was heard that people started agitation in front of the CRPF jawans. They had to open fire in self-defense. What happened in Cooch Behar is very saddening. My sympathies are with the families of those who died. Mamata Didi and her goons are perturbed, seeing the people’s support for BJP,” said Modi.
BJP’s Cooch Behar MP Nisith Pramanik, who is also contesting the assembly elections from Dinhata constituency, alleged that TMC supporters attacked the booth for which the CRPF had fired.
(With inputs from agencies)