The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Sunday concluded that the incident in Nandigram earlier this week which left Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee injured was not an attack.
The EC, however, criticised the “flippant attitude” of chief minister’s Director Security Vivek Sahay. The commission said Sahay was sitting in the bullet-proof car meant for the VVIP, while the chief minister wa using a normal vehicle. “The chief minister flouted the prescribed security norms/protocols, which could have led to tragic consequences,” the poll body said.
It also recommended stringent action against Sahay and formation of a high-level committee of Home Secretary & the DGP West Bengal to take action against people who failed in their duty to prevent the incident.
The EC may also issue direction to all the star campaigner to strictly adhere to the security protocols and arrangements. If any incident of violence occurs during the rallies/road shows of the star campaigners, the DM and SP of the district should be transferred immediately, the body suggested.
The poll body had received two reports – one from West Bengal administration and the other from two poll observers – on the Nandigram incident.
The first report submitted by the state administration on Friday was described as “sketchy” by the ECI and was asked to furnish a detailed one. The second report of poll observers submitted on Saturday said that the incident in Nandigram which caused injury to Banerjee was an accident and not a planned attack, PTI reported quoting a source at the Chief Electoral Officer’s office.
The incident which took place at Birulia bazar in Nandigram in East Midnapore district on March 10 after Banerjee filed her nomination had taken place “suddenly” though a “conspiracy theory” was spoken about, the report prepared by special observer Ajay Nayak and special police observer Vivek Dubey to West Bengal for the state election stated, a source at the CEO office said.
“The incident was not a planned attack but an accident. It had taken place suddenly”, the source said quoting the report.
About the injury to Banerjee, who is also the TMC supremo, in the incident, the report also said that “the suddenness of the incident led to it. “There was no conspiracy behind the incident.” The report took into account the details provided by eye witnesses present during the incident as well as the video grabs collected from them. It also referred to the failure of the police personnel in-charge of the chief minister’s security in controlling the crowd which came “too close” to her.
“The local police and CM’s security failed to control the crowd and that led to the untoward situation,” the source said referring to the report. Following the Nandigram incident, state ADG (Law and Order) and nodal officer Jagmohan on Saturday directed all district administrations to arrange for the strictest security measures for the chief minister during her tours for campaigning in the districts for the eight-phase poll beginning on March 27.
“Security measures should be stringent for the CM. Security for other star campaigners must be tightened. We cannot take any chance after the Nandigram incident,” the source at the CEO said quoting Jagmohan.
According to another official at the office of the CEO the two observers may visit South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly districts starting March 18. “The two observers will meet senior officials of the district administrations and supervise the poll preparedness,” he said.
Meanwhile, state chief secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay in a reply to the EC for a detailed report stated that the cause of the incident at Nandigram was “not clear from the video grab” collected from the place.
“The CM’s vehicle was passing through a crowded area. It was then that there was a push on the door of her car. But it’s not clear whether the push was deliberate or not. The video grabs collected are not very clear,” a source at the CEO said quoting Bandopadhyay’s second report.
The chief secretary was learnt to have attached one video grab along with the report, he added. The EC had sought reports from the state government as well as the two observers on the incident. The state administration had submitted its report on Friday.
Election to the 294 assembly seats in West Bengal will be held between March 27 and April 29. Votes will be counted on May 2.
Meanwhile, the TMC on Friday said the Election Commission of India (ECI) should find out the perpetrators of the “attack” on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a poll campaign at Nandigram on March 10. TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said that the “attack” was carried out by those who were “scared of her popularity”.
“We have raised a question about the responsibility and impartiality of the ECI. The commission has changed the DGP and ADG of state police. They can do so. “But what about plugging loopholes in the proper security arrangements of a public figure like Mamata Banerjee?” Chatterjee had asked.
(with inputs from PTI)