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Sitalkuchi firing a 'genocide'; EC wiping out evidence by restricting entry, alleges Mamata

Sitalkuchi firing a genocide; EC wiping out evidence by restricting entry, alleges Mamata

Siliguri/Kolkata: Describing the Sitalkuchi firing incident as a "genocide", Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee accused the Election Commission (EC) of suppressing facts and alleged that it was wiping out evidence by restricting her entry for 72 hours.

Observing a "black day" on Sunday in protest against the killing of four people at Sitalkuchi in CISF firing on the day of the fourth phase of elections, Banerjee hit out at both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah calling them "incompetent." She also mocked the EC saying it "should rename MCC (Model Code of Conduct) as Modi Code of Conduct!"

Despite being restricted from going to Cooch Behar, she kept her promise of interacting with bereaved family members by talking to them through video calls using mobile phones from Siliguri and assured them of all support.

"It is a genocide, like the Nandigram incident. The CISF fired at the chest and neck region, above the belt. They shot to kill. The CISF has no role in crowd control. They are not trained for that. Then why have they been deployed here?" alleged Banerjee, addressing media persons in Siliguri on Sunday morning.

She further questioned as to why she is not being allowed to visit the family of the deceased. "I am not there during election time only. I stand by people whenever they are in distress and pain round the year," stated Banerjee, sporting a black shawl in protest.

"I respect the ECI but you cannot change all the rules all the time to serve the interest of a particular political party. I will visit North Bengal again on April 14 on the last date of campaign for the fifth phase and then I will visit Sitalkuchi. They can't stop me," remarked the Trinamool Congress supremo.

Earlier during the day, Mamata Banerjee tweeted: "ECC should rename MCC as Modi Code of Conduct! BJP can use all its might but NOTHING in this world can stop me from being with my people and sharing their pain. They can restrict me from visiting my brothers and sisters in Cooch Behar for 3 days but I WILL be there on the 4th day!"

She stated that the ECI is claiming that the forces shot in self-defense. "Where are your video clips in support of this? Where are the security personnel who have been attacked? Why wasn't there any baton charge, tear gas or water cannons used? Why shoot to kill?" questioned Banerjee expressing her condolence over the death of Chhalmu Mia (23), Nameed Mia (20), Azad Hossain (28) and Jobed Ali (20). She also expressed her grief over the killing of 18-year-old Ananda Barma— a first time voter—at a different booth at Sitalkuchi itself.

Holding a video conference with family members of two of the victims from the Press conference, Banerjee hit out at the EC and said: "Your sinister design to restrict me from interacting with the families did not work. I did not violate the MCC yet I connected with the families as a humanitarian gesture."

Talking to family members of two of the deceased, Banerjee assured all help to the families of the deceased and injured. She instructed the local TMC leaders to ensure that a strong FIR is filed and to retain a receipt copy. "They might even change the FIR to dilute the case. They are capable of anything. The SP is a BJP appointee and a BJP mouthpiece," retorted Banerjee.

She added that the state government has requested permission from the ECI to announce an ex-gratia for the families of the victims. "I will also support the families with whatever fund is left over from my election expenditure fund," assured Banerjee. She once again urged people to cast their respective votes by maintaining peace by considering it to be a befitting reply to the genocide.

A cloud of sorrow hung heavy upon Jorpatki village in Sitalkuchi. Shops remained closed. The village remained devoid of the presence of security personnel on Sunday. The villagers bid a tearful adieu to the four victims, as they were laid to rest. A martyr column was erected in the school ground where the firing had taken place on Saturday. Banerjee led a protest march on her wheelchair from Burdwan Police Line to Burdwan Railway Station with black piece of cloth around her neck. Her party workers brought out "Dhikkar Michhil" protesting the "genocide" in every block across the state. Intellectuals including Kabir Suman, Bratya Basu and other eminent personalities staged a demonstration at Gandhi Statue on Mayo Road protesting against the incident.

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