Calling it as Modi Code of Conduct instead of Model Code of Conduct, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday (April 11) questioned the Election Commission’s decision to impose ban on the entry of any political leader in Cooch Behar district for 72 hours and reducing the campaigning period by 24 hours for the fifth phase of election, scheduled on April 17. Now, according to the EC order, electioneering would be stopped 72 hours before the start of polling– the normal duration is 48 hours.
The EC’s decision came hours after the killing of five persons in poll-related violence and firing by CISF personnel on Saturday morning during the fourth phase of polling near booth number 126 in Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency of Cooch Behar district.
All the four killed in firing by security personnel are Muslims.
Earlier, an 18 year old boy, a first-time voter, identified as Anand Burman, was shot dead at booth number 85 of the same constituency. This triggered clashes between the supporters of Trinamool Congress and the BJP, which claimed that the deceased was its polling agent. On the other hand, the TMC directly held the BJP responsible for Burman’s killing.
Mamata said that she would definitely visit Cooch Behar and meet the family members after the 72 hours ban period ends.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission conceded that the incident of firing was the outcome of ‘misunderstanding’ after a 14-year old boy, Md. Manik, who came with his mother and was standing outside booth number 126, fell ill and collapsed, when his mother was inside the booth. The CISF personnel, according to the EC, took him to hospital.
On the other hand, the local people alleged that the boy was in fact beaten by the security personnel.
As the news of the boy being thrashed by the police spread, a large number of people, including women, assembled to protest the incident. It was only after the subsequent clashes that the police had to fire in self-defence, the EC version said. It also said that attempts were made to snatch a gun from a CISF jawan.
The TMC totally contradicts this claim and said that the EC has not produced any video to substantiate its charge of being attacked by the people though the CCTV cameras have been installed at all the booths.