Saddened over deaths in rural-poll violence, police free to act against culprits: Mamata


West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said she is saddened at the loss of lives in “sporadic” incidents of violence during the panchayat elections.

Banerjee also asserted that her government has given a free hand to the police to take action against those behind the violence.

“I am saddened at the loss of lives in sporadic incidents of violence (during the rural polls). They are victims of circumstances… The polls were held in 71,000 booths, but violence took place in not more than 60 booths,” Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.

The chief minister claimed that 19 people, mostly from her Trinamool Congress, died in poll-related violence since the election date was announced on June 8 Police sources, however, have put the number of fatalities at 37.

“I am giving the police a free hand to act against those behind the violence,” she said, announcing a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each and a special home guard job for one family member of those killed.

Banerjee appealed for peace and harmony in the aftermath of the polls.

The TMC supremo also lashed out at the BJP for sending a fact-finding team to the violence-affected areas in the state.

Describing it as “BJP-protection committee” and “provocation committee”, she wondered why such teams were not sent to ethnic violence-torn Manipur or in Agartala, where opposition activists were allegedly attacked earlier this year.

“Where was the fact-finding team when Manipur was burning? Where was this team when Assam was burning over the NRC? Within two years, close to 154 such teams have been sent to Bengal,” the chief minister stated.

She also thanked the people of Bengal for TMC’s resounding success in the rural polls, and said that the opposition “spreading canards” against it has actually helped the party win.

“Why do you (opposition) have such hatred against me? Is it because I come from a humble family background? Is it because I speak for unity?” she said.

Banerjee also lambasted the Congress and CPI(M), accusing them of being equally responsible for the poll violence.
“I do not indulge in politics of hate and violence. I am sorry to say Ram (BJP), the ‘Baam’ (the Left) and ‘Shyam’ (Congress) had hatched a conspiracy and resorted to violence. I do not want to say much because we are aiming at unity (of non-BJP parties) at the national level,” she added.


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