4 killed in Bengal violence on last day for nominations
On Thursday, the division bench of chief justice TS Sivagnanam and justice Uday Kumar asked the poll body to seek paramilitary assistance from the Union government within 48 hours
At least four people were killed across West Bengal on Thursday, the last day of filing nominations for the three tier panchayat polls, on a day when the Calcutta high court ordered the deployment of central forces all over the state till the elections end.
Under the schedule issued by the state election commission (SEC) on June 8, nominations will be accepted till June 15, they can be withdrawn till June 15, with polling on July 8, and counting on July 11.“We will comply with the court order,” SEC Rajiva Sinha said on Thursday night.
No party announced how many nominations were filed but chief minister Mamata Banerjee put the figure to 0.1 million. On Thursday, the division bench of chief justice TS Sivagnanam and justice Uday Kumar asked the poll body to seek paramilitary assistance from the Union government within 48 hours, and deploy them in every part of the state, and not just the seven districts — Birbhum, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Murshidabad, East Midnapore and Jalpaiguri — that are categorized as sensitive. This comes two days after the high court had ordered the SEC to evaluate the law and order situation in view of the ensuing violence and deploy central forces in sensitive districts as well as other areas witnessing violence.
Despite a plea by the state body to reconsider its order, the two member bench said that it was clear that the SEC had asked the chief secretary on June 14 to submit an assessment plan to enable further action. “It is seen that in more than five days no action has been initiated and no assessment plan has been submitted to the Commission which clearly shows that there is a slackness on the part of the administration in promptly reporting by identification of sensitive areas from the law and order point of view,” the court said.
With the BJP complaining that civic volunteers were being used for law and order duties, the bench ordered that the SEC issue a circular that all officers assigned for election duty “shall display their identity cards prominently”.
The order came on a day when the CPI(M) said that two workers, identified as Mansur Ali and Manjur Ali, were allegedly shot dead at Chopra in North Dinajpur, while Indian Secular Front(ISF) worker Mahiuddin Mollah and Trinamool Congress(TMC) worker Rashid Molla died in Bhangor. “Rashid Molla was shot in the head by ISF workers,” Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislator from the district’s Canning East seat, Saukat Molla, alleged.
Overall, the death toll in poll related violence has risen to at least five, after Congress worker Phoolchand Sheikh died in Murshidabad on June 9. The state police has not made a comment on the deaths still Thursday evening, but chief minister Mamata Banerjee blamed the opposition and said that her party was not involved in any of the incidents. “Our party was not involved in the Islampur violence. It was perpetrated by those who were not given a ticket by our party because they lost credibility. I have asked the police to take strong action. At Bhangar, the party who won the (assembly) polls are indulging in violence. Communal slogans were raised when properties were ransacked. There was some retaliation from our side yesterday. I will not hide the truth,” the chief minister said.
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari welcomed the court’s order. “Their presence is necessary because the TMC will plan more violence to force opposition candidates to withdraw their nominations,” he said.
“No words, only action. Wait and see. You will see effective and conclusive action,” governor C V Ananda Bose told the media when asked to comment on the deaths.
CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said, “Many Congress and CPI(M) workers who were going to file their nomination in Chopra were injured when TMC workers opened fire at them. The victims could not escape because police were lobing tear gas shells from the opposite end.”
“The TMC people fired at us from AK-47 rifles,” Hamidul Islam, who was shot in the right leg at Chopra, told the local media at a local hospital.
North Dinajpur police officers did not comment on the allegations.