Despite violence and bloodbath in the fourth phase of the assembly polls after five people including four in the firing by the central forces died at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district, a high voter turnout was recorded till 3 p.m. Though the police claimed that the CISF on duty opened fire in self defence that led to the death of four people, the Chief Minister asked for an explanation from the Home Minister saying that she would visit the violence hit area on Sunday.
The four persons who died on Saturday are identified as Monirujjaman (28), Hamidul Miyan (30), Nur Alma Miyan (21) and Samiul Haque (20). They were all residents of Jor Patki village and the voters of booth no 126 where the incident took place. Following the incident, the Election Commission adjourned the polling on the booth and sought a report from the Special Observers and CEO Ariz Aftab by 5 p.m. on Saturday.
According to the preliminary reports that when an unruly mob tried to snatch the firearms from the central forces at Booth no 126 at Amtali at Jor Patki village in Sitalkuchi assembly seat, the central forces opened fire in self defence that took the lives of four people.
"A 14-year-old boy who came with his mother to the polling station suddenly fell ill and a QRT (Quick Response Team) van that was nearby sent the boy to the hospital. Suddenly this incident triggered a rumour that the boy was shot by the central forces and hundreds of people started gathering around the booth. They started agitating and also tried to snatch away the firearms from the security forces. Unable to control the unruly mob, the CISF jawans on duty opened fire on the mob killing four persons," DIG of Jalpaiguri range Annappa E told the media.
In another incident, a first-time voter Ananda Barman (18), son of Jagadish Barman of Pathantuli, Golenawhati GP, Sitalkuchi, Cooch Behar died when he was shot at from a firearm by unknown miscreants.
The incident snowballed into a major political controversy with the Trinamool Congress demanding probe into the high-handedness of the central forces in the election management.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has alleged that armed central police shot four people dead who were standing in a queue to vote in Sitalkuchi. While speaking at a public meeting at Hingalganj, she asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah to explain why lives were lost in central forces' firing during the fourth phase of polling.
She also said, "after killing so many people they (Election Commission) are saying the firing was in self-defence. They should feel ashamed. This is a lie."
Mamata Banerjee will also hold a protest rally in Cooch Behar on Sunday against the alleged killing of four people.
Despite violence and deaths, high voter turnout has been recorded in all the five polling districts.
According to the Election Commission data, 66.76 per cent polling was recorded till 3 p.m. on Saturday. Cooch Behar, where the incidents of violence took place, recorded the highest polling percentage of 70.21 per cent followed by Alipurduar where 68.51 per cent polling was recorded. Apart from that, Hooghly recorded a polling percentage of 67.42 per cent and Howrah had a voter turnout of 65.23 per cent. South 24 Parganas experienced the lowest turnout of the five districts with a voter turnout of only 64.07 per cent.