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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 April 2024

Mamata feets families of Sitalkuchi firing victims, promises justice

18-year-old first time voter's father refuses to meet CM, but later other relatives do

Our Bureau, Agencies Cooch Behar Published 14.04.21, 06:31 PM
Mamata Banerjee talks to a family member of one of the victims killed in the firing, at Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar, on Wednesday.

Mamata Banerjee talks to a family member of one of the victims killed in the firing, at Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar, on Wednesday. PTI

The Burmans of Cooch Behar’s Pathakuli are a divided lot and a tragedy has made the rift deeper. On Wednesday morning when Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee came calling on the kin of those killed on April 10, Jagadish, father of the slain 18-year-old first-time voter Anand, refused to meet her.

Jagadish Burman’s refusal was a reminder of the acrimonious atmosphere that personal political choices can create within a family and its fallout.

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Instead, Anand’s maternal grandfather Kshitish Chandra Roy and uncle Ranjit later went to meet the chief minister at Mathabhanga, where she addressed an campaign meeting.

“After the elections are over, the Sitalkuchi incident will be probed. We will find out those who killed Anand Burman. The perpetrators will be punished,” she said.

“I came here to meet the family members of the victims. I met all the five families. Anand’s grandfather and maternal uncle are here. All of them were so young. The government will stand by them in the days to come,” she said.

Anand’s father, a known BJP supporter in Pathakuli, had made it clear earlier in the day that he was not interested in meeting Mamata.

“Everyone here knows who killed my son. We were being threatened from days before the polls,” said Jagadish. “We don’t want any financial help from this government.”

On Saturday morning, after barely two-and-half hours of polling, Sitalkuchi turned violent with clashes between supporters of the Trinamul Congress and the BJP. Soon after, four perons --- Nur Alam Mian, Maniruzzaman Mian, Samiul Haq and Hamidul Mian--- were killed outside a polling booth at Jorpatki after the central forces opened fire. The central forces had claimed that the villagers had attacked a team and that they were forced to fire in retaliation.

Following the violence, the Election Commission put in place restrictions, including extending the "silence period" from 48 hours to 72 hours, for the fifth phase of elections, and barred the entry of politicians in the district for the next 72 hours from April 10, to prevent any possible law and order flare-up.

Though Mamata wanted to visit the trouble spot on Sunday, she did so on Wednesday after the EC embargo ended. She spoke with the kin of two victims on Sunday morning over a video call, though she did not call the Burmans.

The BJP has been trying to create a divide using the incident, harping on the socio-religious identities of the victims, while accusing Mamata of pandering to the minorities even in a tragedy, as Burman is a Rajbangshi while the rest were Muslims.

“It isn’t surprising Mamata offers no comfort to the family of Anand Burman who was killed while queueing up to vote. He was a Rajbangshi, which isn’t her votebank. Contrast with her high-decibel protest against the death of four Muslims in a poll fracas incited by her,” Swapan Dasgupta, the BJP nominee for the Tarakeswar, had tweeted on Sunday.

The local BJP leaders were quick to claim that Anand was their party worker and killed by Trinamul-backed goons. On Wednesday too the party’s national president JP Nadda claimed Mamata was anti-Dalit. “She hasn’t yet said a word on the death of Anand Burman. This shows her anti-Dalit attitude,” Nadda said.

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