Battleground Bengal: Onus on ECI to tighten security - The Tribune India

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Battleground Bengal

Onus on ECI to tighten security

Battleground Bengal

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THE attack on officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) at Bhupatinagar in West Bengal’s East Midnapore district on April 6 has aggravated the conflict between the Centre and the state government. The officials were targeted when they were on their way back after arresting two local leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) in connection with a blast that had claimed three lives in December 2022. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has accused the NIA sleuths of provoking local residents and harassing women. The police have filed a counter-FIR against the Central agency’s sleuths under Section 354 (outraging a woman’s modesty) of the IPC on the complaint of family members of one of the arrested leaders.

The incident is reminiscent of what happened on January 5, when a team of the Enforcement Directorate faced mob violence in North 24 Parganas district’s Sandeshkhali during a search at the house of TMC strongman Shahjahan Sheikh. At that time, one of Shahjahan’s employees had accused the ED of entering the party leader’s residence without a search warrant. The attacks on officials must be probed thoroughly, even as the TMC has approached the Election Commission of India (ECI) against the alleged misuse of Central agencies in Bengal.

With the stakes high for both the TMC and its biggest rival in the state, the BJP, the next few weeks are expected to witness the hardening of battlelines. The saffron party, which had made major inroads in Bengal in the 2019 General Election — winning 18 seats out of 42 — is going all out to again give a tough fight to the TMC. The Lok Sabha election in Bengal is scheduled to take place in all seven phases (from April 19 to June 1), which makes it incumbent upon the ECI to tighten security and prevent clashes. Leaders of both parties must be taken to task if they incite their cadres to violence and try to derail the democratic process.

#National Investigation Agency NIA #West Bengal


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