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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 April 2024

Sitalkuchi: Didi promises to take care of victim's family

Within hours of the tragedy on Saturday, Mamata had reached Siliguri with the plan of visiting the bereaved families the next morning

Main Uddin Chisti Cooch Behar Published 15.04.21, 02:21 AM
Mamata cradles Mariam, whose father  Maniruzzaman Mian was killed in CISF firing, in Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar on Wednesday

Mamata cradles Mariam, whose father Maniruzzaman Mian was killed in CISF firing, in Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar on Wednesday Main Uddin Chisti

Mariam, one-and-a-half months old, lost her father Maniruzzaman Mian when CISF jawans opened fire in Sitalkuchi during polling on Saturday.

Four days later, the baby found herself in the hands of a visitor who came calling in a wheelchair. Handed back a little later, Mariam slept without fuss in her mother Rahila Begum’s lap as Mamata Banerjee promised to heal the wounds of the widow in her early twenties.

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“There won’t be any problems.… We will take care of you,” the chief minister told Rahila whose husband was one of the four who were killed in the firing by the central force.

“Those who are behind these killings, I will not spare them…. Once the elections are over, the state government will conduct an inquiry. Whoever they might be, we will not relent and we will go to every possible extent so that they are punished,” Mamata added.

Within hours of the tragedy on Saturday, Mamata had reached Siliguri with the plan of visiting the bereaved families the next morning.

Mamata holds baby Mariam, whose father was killed in the Sitalkuchi firing, as her  mother looks on in Mathabangha on Wednesday

Mamata holds baby Mariam, whose father was killed in the Sitalkuchi firing, as her mother looks on in Mathabangha on Wednesday Main Uddin Chisti

However, Mamata had to postpone her visit as the Election Commission announced a 72-hour ban on the entry of political leaders in Cooch Behar. The killings also prompted the commission to expand the silence period for the fifth phase of polling, following which campaigning ended on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, Mamata’s chopper landed in Mathabhanga, where she met the families of the four victims of Jorpatki, a village in Sitalkuchi.

The maternal grandfather and an uncle of Ananda Burman, a first-time voter who died on the same day in Sitalkuchi when two groups clashed, were also present in Mathabhanga to meet Mamata.

Mamata speaks to the bereaved wife of Hamidul Mian (in orange dupatta) as her  three-and-a-half-year-old daughter stands beside her in Mathabhanga on Wednesday.  To her left is Maniruzzaman Mian’s wife with her infant daughter.

Mamata speaks to the bereaved wife of Hamidul Mian (in orange dupatta) as her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter stands beside her in Mathabhanga on Wednesday. To her left is Maniruzzaman Mian’s wife with her infant daughter. Main Uddin Chisti

When Mamata reached the ground near Mathabhanga sub-divisional hospital on Wednesday — after the 72-hour ban got over — she spoke with each of the families, especially with the wives, and cuddled the children.

Mamata assured them of all possible help before telling them how her plan to reach them earlier was scuttled by the poll panel’s order.

“I wanted to come on the very next day but was not allowed,” Mamata said.

“But I had promised that I would be meeting the families on April 14 and accordingly, I have reached here. We will stand by these families and we will reply to the bullets with ballots,” said Mamata.

Mamata speaks to the maternal grandfather of 18-year-old Ananda Barman, who was gunned down in a clash on April 10

Mamata speaks to the maternal grandfather of 18-year-old Ananda Barman, who was gunned down in a clash on April 10 Main Uddin Chisti

The deaths in Sitalkuchi on poll day and the subsequent war of words between the Trinamul Congress and the BJP have added a new dimension to the already polarised discourse in Bengal this election season.

BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, have been referring to the death of Burman, a Rajbanshi youth, to accuse Mamata of being selective in her mourning and only referring to the deaths of four Muslims to appease the community.

However, the chief minister has been mentioning the death of Burman in all her speeches since the incident.

On Wednesday, Mamata herself tried to drill holes into the BJP claim as she spoke of Burman’s death.

“We will also find out who all were responsible for the death of Ananda Burman. All those who died are Rajbanshis as four of them were nasya Sheikh (Rajbanshi Muslims) while the other was a Rajbanshi Hindu. Please consider me as your own girl and I would urge you to maintain peace and amity,” she said.

During her short address, Mamata instructed party leaders Rabindranath Ghosh and Partha Pratim Roy to make arrangements so that five “martyrs” memorials can be built.

“Find a place and get the columns ready. Once the elections are over, I will come here again,” she said.

The families, who were eagerly waiting for Mamata’s visit, said they found the chief minister’s visit reassuring.

Jobed Ali, the father of Nur Alam Mian, one of the deceased youths, said even when they had headed to Mathabhanga from their hamlet — located around 20km away — they were not sure what Mamata’s visit would yield.

“But her compassion and the manner in which she has assured us would help us to try and return to our normal lives. She is the only political leader on whom we can depend.… We are confident that she will meet her promise and we will get justice,” Ali said.

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