BJP’s Dilip Ghosh warns of more ‘Sitalkuchi cases’ while Amit Shah and Mamata continue to exchange barbs as political discourse in West Bengal hits a new low

Published : April 11, 2021 20:14 IST

West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh near his damaged vehicle after he was allegedly attacked following an election meeting, in the Sitalkuchi area of Cooch Behar, on April 7. Photo: PTI

A day after the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) shot and killed four people at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district after violence broke out on polling day in the fourth phase of the Assembly election in West Bengal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State president Dilip Ghosh created a controversy by not only justifying the killings but also issuing a warning that “there will be Sitalkuchi cases in various places” if anyone takes the law into his own hands. The comment drew condemnation from all opposition parties even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Union Home Minister Amit Shah continued trading charges over the tragedy.

Addressing an election rally at Baranagar in North 24 Parganas on April 11, Dilip Ghosh said, “Where have so many naughty boys come from? The kind of naughty boys who got shot in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar, won’t remain in Bengal. This is just the beginning. Those who thought that the guns carried by the Central forces are just for show, are now realising the strength of the guns…. Those who take the law into their own hands will be dealt with in a befitting manner…. If they want to fight, then they have seen what happened at Sitalkuchi. There will be Sitalkuchi cases in various places. So be careful.”

Both the Trinamool and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) came down heavily on Ghosh for his comments, calling his outlook “fascistic”. Trinamool MP Sougata Roy said, “We have always said that the BJP is a fascist party, and Dilip Ghosh’s comments have proved the point. This is the philosophy of the RSS and the BJP – to shoot people and to strangle democracy. I have no words to condemn it.” CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “The less said of Dilip Ghosh’s comments the better. He does not understand the meaning of democracy, has no proper idea about human rights – and the conception that he does have is extremely dangerous. He is delighted that four people were shot yesterday, and, like the Chief Minister, he too is trying to create a division between people using the incident. Those with such mindset are of a fascist bent of mind.”

Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee and Amit Shah continued with their exchanges over the tragedy. The day after Mamata demanded the resignation of Shah, accusing him of giving directions to the Central forces, the Home Minister accused Mamata of being responsible for the deaths, as, according to him, it was she who incited the people to attack the Central forces. “A few days earlier, in the very same Sitalkuchi constituency, Mamata didi had said in a speech that when the CISF and CAPF personnel come, you surround them, attack them. I want to ask Mamata didi a simple question: Was your speech not responsible for the death of those four young people? If you had not given such a speech, would the four young men have had the courage to attack the CRPF? You goaded them into such a situation,” said Amit Shah at a press conference.

He also accused Mamata of politicising the tragedy. Referring to the death of 18-year-old Ananda Barman, a first-time voter who was shot by miscreants before the CAPF shooting took place, Shah said, “The very same morning Ananda Barman was murdered by goons…. But Mamata didi only paid tribute to four people, and not Ananda Barman. This is an example of how low Mamata didi has taken the politics of Bengal with her politics of vote bank and appeasement…. The reason she did not shed any tear for Ananda Barman or make any statement on his death is because he happens to belong to the Rajbonshi community and is not her supporter.”

Mamata called the shooting at Sitalkuchi a “genocide.” Addressing a press conference at Siliguri, north Bengal, on April 11, she said, “This is genocide. They have fired just like a fire spray. They should have fired below the wait. But they have fired at neck and chest.” Lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, Mamata said, “I could not sleep last night but the Prime Minister was eating sweets. Such an incompetent government, incompetent Prime Minister, incompetent Home Minister.” Mamata also accused the Election Commission of trying to suppress facts by not allowing her to go to Sitalkuchi and comfort the bereaved family members. The Election Commission had issued an order on the evening of April 10, restricting political leaders from going to Sitalkuchi for the next 72 hours.