- 4 shot dead in in Bengal's Cooch Behar outside polling booth
- Election Commission has adjourned polling at the booth in Sitalkurchi
- The violence trigerred blame-game between BJP and Trinamool
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused central forces of "murder" in a fierce attack on the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday evening. The Chief Minister was responding to what she called a "planned attack" at a polling booth in Cooch Behar district earlier today, where clashes with security forces led to the death of four people.
Ms Banerjee also said Bengal Police CID (Crime Investigation Department) would conduct a probe.
Four people were shot dead this morning in Bengal's Cooch Behar in a clash with security forces outside a polling booth. The clashes, which took place as 44 seats vote in the fourth phase of Assembly elections, have triggered a blame-game between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress.
The Election Commission has stopped polling at the booth in Sitalkuchi, about 680 km from Kolkata, where violence was reported and a detailed report has been sought.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths but also slammed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her party. "What happened in Cooch Behar is sad... I offer condolences to bereaved families. Mamata Didi and her goons are jittery because of groundswell of support for the BJP."
Mamata Banerjee hit back at the central government as she demanded Home Minister Amit Shah's resignation. "The BJP knows it won't win so it's resorting to bombs and violence," she said.
Addressing a press conference this evening, Ms Banerjee also accused central forces of "murder" in a fierce attack on PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, whose resignation she demanded.
Ms Banerjee said the attack was "planned" and said a CID team from Bengal would investigate.
"Home Minister Amit Shah is completely responsible for today's incident and he himself is the conspirator. I don't blame central forces because they work under Home Minister's order. We will demand his resignation," she said, calling the deaths "murder by central forces".
"The BJP knows it won't win so it's resorting to bombs and violence," she said earlier in the day.
"BSF and the CISF are torturing people in villages. Women, boys and girls are being threatened that they should vote for the BJP. They have gone and shot people standing in line to vote. Who has given them this courage? So many people were not killed during the panchayat elections," she said.
"In the state election, 20 people have been killed and 13 of them are from our party," she added.
The violence unfolded this morning after a man fainted at the Sitalkuchi polling booth.
"Till 9:30 everything was fine. One man who had come to vote fainted, and his treatment was going on across the booth. As rumours spread, locals thought he was beaten by central forces. Crowds gathered and tried snatching weapons from CISF troops," police officer Debasish Dhar said.
The central forces opened fire when they came under attack, he added.
The Election Commission has got a preliminary report from Vivek Dubey, the special police observer for Bengal, which confirms firing by the central forces.
Details of exact sequence of events are awaited.
Earlier in the day, at another booth, an 18-year-old first-time voter was killed allegedly after he was shot. The incident took place at booth number 295 at Pathantuli constituency.
Anand Burman was waiting to vote for the first time when clashes broke out. Initial reports suggest firing took place after clash between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress supporters.
After earlier saying five party supporters were killed, the Trinamool, in its letter to the Election Commission, said the deaths in Cooch Behar were "cold-blooded murder".
MP Derek O'Brien also mentioned "brutal injury" to three others, underlining that "the only mistake the seven people made was that they wished to participate in the festival of democracy".
The ruling party further sought action against the CAPF officials and Cooch Behar Superintendent of Police Debasish Dhar, whom the party said, was appointed by the Election Commission.
Targeting Amit Shah and Prime Minister Modi, Mr O'Brien had earlier tweeted: "When you can't beat us fair 'n square, you shoot & kill (sic)."
The Election Commission has posted around 80,000 personnel from the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to guard nearly 16,000 polling stations in the fourth phase. The highest deployment of 187 companies of CAPF - with 100 personnel in each company - is in Cooch Behar.
Earlier this week, Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh's convoy was targeted in Cooch Behar, and 16 people were arrested over the incident.
Bengal, which has been prone to poll-related violence, is electing its next government in a record eight-phased elections which began last month. Results will be out on May 2.