The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced that “no political leader from any party will be allowed to “enter the geographical boundaries of Cooch Behar district for the next 72 hours with immediate effect”. This was decided by the EC, hours after the assertion of West Bengal’s Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee to visit Sitalkuchi constituency in the district on Sunday to meet families of four killed today as central forces allegedly opened fire after coming under attack from locals, who “attempted to snatch their rifles” in the district.
The ECI has also stretched the “silence period” from 48 hours to 72 hours, for the fifth phase of polling West Bengal after the poll violence in the district to stop any possible law and order flare-up. The ECI Order says that “In Cooch Behar district comprising of 9ACs (AC numbers 1 to 9) where voting shall be over by today, no political leader from any national, state, or other parties should be allowed to enter the geographical boundaries of the district for the next 72 hours. This comes into force with immediate effect, the silence period for phase 5 (i.e. for polls scheduled on April 17) shall be extended to 72 hours and no campaigning shall be permitted during 72 hours before the close of the poll to ensure the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections,”. It should be noted that the silence period is generally for 48 hours. West Bengal Chief Secretary, DGP, DM, and Superintendent of Police of Cooch Behar district have been asked to take all required steps to ensure the strict acquiescence of the directions of the Commission. The Trinamool Congress has decided to uphold protests in every block and ward of West Bengal over the ring in Cooch Behar on Sunday. The ring necessitated place around 9.35 am at Assembly Constituency No 5 (Sitalkuchi), Booth No 126 in Amtali Madhyamik Shiksha Kendra under the Mathabhanga police station in the Cooch Behar district. Those who were wounded are being treated in a local hospital and additional central forces were sent to Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar to have the law and order situation in the area.