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Why lethal weapons used first: Experts doubt CrPC violation

Kolkata: Mystery still looms over the killing of four youths at Sitalkuchi though CAPF claimed that the firing was done in "self defence".

Former IPS officers and several other serving officers in the state have raised questions over the firing incident in Sitalkuchi, which led to the death of four youths while polling was underway. Though Central force had claimed that the shots were fired for self-defense, the officers have expressed doubts as to why the norms of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) not followed to disperse "unlawful assembly" of people at the polling station.

As per the Section 130 (3) of CrPC in order to disperse the 'unlawful assembly' the officer 'shall use as little force and do as little injury to person and property, as may be consistent with dispersing the assembly and arresting and detaining such persons. Citing the same section, the officers asked as to why lethal weapons were used in the first instance itself instead of resorting to lathicharge and firing of tear gas shells.

The claim that the firing was done when a mob attempted to snatch firearms from the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) raised another question. "How could the mob reach the polling station when no gathering was supposed to be allowed within 100-200 metres of a polling station?" asked a senior IPS officer, requesting anonymity. "It has to be understood that no war was going on at Sitalkuchi right. The target was just to disperse the mob," he added.

He further said: "If the Central forces were under attack, was anyone of them injured with the so-called deadly weapons that the purported mob was carrying? Video recording of anything unusual happening in polling stations is a common practice. But, nothing has surfaced yet of the incident at booth

number 5/126 at Jorpatki in Sitalkuchi".

Former IPS officer Humayun Kabir, who joined politics after serving the police force for 32 years and became TMC candidate from Debra, said: "A thorough probe is needed in this connection. It is a gross violation of CrPC Section 130. One would hardly believe that firing of tear gas shells would not have helped in controlling the mob when there is no report yet of anyone carrying firearms. We would not be surprised if it gets proved in the probe, as the sequence of events shows, that it was a pre-planned incident. Why was the firing done above the waist?"

Both the officers have raised questions as to why no senior police officer from the district, who knows the terrain better, was pressed to the spot.

SP Cooch Behar Debashis Dhar, who had briefed the media, said: "We have given the report based on the reports including that of the presiding officer. Investigation is still left and exactly what had taken place can be adjudged only after the completion of the probe. During the probe, only it will be taken into consideration whether the sections of the CrPC were followed or not."

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