ECI bans political leaders from visiting Cooch Behar for 72 hours; orders repoll in one polling station

EC also extended silence period for phase five of the polls from 48 hours before polling to 72 hours.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday ordered re-polling at one polling station in Cooch Behar and banned political leaders from visiting the district for 72 hours after violence broke out during voting in phase four of the West Bengal Assembly elections

The EC said in its order that an incident of firing was reported at polling station number 126, Amtali Madhyamik Siksha Kendraat 05-Sitalkuchi (SC) Assembly Constituency, in Cooch Behar district around 11.50 a.m. 

EC-appointed general observer Sharad Laxman Ahire and police observer Madireddy Pratap rushed to the stop and confirmed that a mob had attacked the polling station, it said. Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel then opened fire, leading to the death of four people and injuries to four others, it added.

The EC said the joint report by the two special observers found that the CISF personnel had to fire in order to save lives of the voters, polling personnel and themselves, as the mob had tried to snatch their weapons. 

“Whereas, it has been brought to the notice of the Commission that the last rites of the four deceased persons had still not been completed and that some political leaders may visit this area with the ostensible purpose of condoling with the families of bereaved which however, has the portent to cause a law and order problem of major proportions in this place as well as the adjoining places…,” the order stated. 

The EC order said that no political leaders would be allowed to enter the district for the next 72 hours and that the silence period for phase five of the polls, which are to be held on April 17, would be extended from 48 hours before polling to 72 hours. 

The EC also ordered the West Bengal Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, as well as Cooch Behar District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police to carry out visits and ensure strict compliance of the EC’s directions. 

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