The central forces continued to be in news for wrong reasons even in the seventh-phase of polling on Monday (April 26), compelling even the election commission to take note of the transgressions by the men in uniform.
From asking electors to vote for the BJP, preventing voters from exercising their franchise to preventing non-BJP candidates from entering polling booths, there were a slew of complaints against the central forces.
The Trinamool Congress, the CPI (M), the Congress and even an independent candidate aired their grievances against the central forces, whose role has raised questions from the first phase of elections itself.
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Accusing the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) of ransacking the house of a TMC functionary in Murshidabad district’s Raninagar assembly and a TMC booth office in Malda’s Habibpur constituency, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her party would file an FIR against CRPF and drag them to the court.
The sector officer in his report to the commission, however, denied the charges of forces ransacking the house of a TMC leader, claiming that the paramilitary force went to the spot after getting a report of clashes between the TMC and the BJP supporters.
The central forces were also accused of manhandling a TMC booth agent in Malda’s Malatipur at the fag-end of the polling.
Following the incident locals staged protests.
TMC’s Pandabeswar candidate Narendranath Chakraborty also lodged a complaint with the poll panel against the central forces for allegedly assaulting a party worker Krishnendu Chatterjee at booth number 217 under Pratapur panchayat in West Burdwan district.
The complaints against the central forces started pouring in as soon as the polling process commenced in the morning. Several voters of booth number 168 of Suti constituency in Mursidabad district claimed before local reporters that the central forces during patrolling asked them to vote for the BJP or would face consequences.
The central forces also prevented several candidates from entering polling booths even after they identified themselves.
Taking note of such complaints, the poll panel reiterated that the candidates must be allowed to enter the polling booths and asked the ADGP (law and order) to ensure no such incident took place in future.
Despite showing their identity cards, TMC candidate from Bhabnipur constituency in Kolkata Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, party’s candidate from Rashbehari assembly constituency Debashish Kumar, Congress candidate from the same constituency Ashutosh Cahtterjee and CPI (M)’s Aishe Ghosh from Jamuria in West Burdwan district were prevented from entering booths.
They all lodged complaints with the commission. Even media persons were denied entry in some booths in Rashbehari assembly constituency in Kolkata despite having valid pass from the commission.
Similar complaints were raised against the central forces even in the earlier phases of elections. They also drew flak for opening fire at a polling booth in Sitalkuchi, Cooch Behar district during the fourth phase of polling on April 10. Four persons were killed in the firing incident, described as “genocide” by the chief minister.
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The post-mortem reports of the victims revealed that they were fired from a medium range, targeting their upper body.
“Post mortem reports of persons killed by central forces reveal. One shot while he was running away, shot in back from 10 metres. Second had head injuries, hit with butt of a rifle. Third was shot in the chest also from close quarters,” TMC spokesperson Derek O’ Brien said in a tweet.
The EC had earlier given a clean chit to the CISF for opening fire saying it was necessitated to save the lives of the voters and that the firing was in ‘self-defence’.