BSF rejects Mamata’s ‘they intimidate voters’ claim

Mamata had claimed that BSF troops intimidating voters in areas bordering Bangladesh

KOLKATA | Updated: 27 June, 2023 5:19 pm IST

KOLKATA: The Border Security Force on Tuesday rejected West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banjerjee’s allegations that BSF troops intimidate voters in areas bordering Bangladesh.

Addressing an election rally in Coochbehar, Banerjee – who helms the ruling Trinamool Congress – alleged that BSF troops go door-to-door coercing people not to vote.

“During elections, these BSF officials go to border areas and intimidate voters, coercing them not to vote. However, I urge my people not to be afraid of their tactics and to participate fearlessly in the elections,” she told her supporters on Monday.

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A day after, BSF released a statement denying her claims as “completely baseless and devoid of truth”.

“The BSF is a professional force entrusted with the responsibility of securing the international border of India. We have never intimidated the border population or voters in the bordering areas for any reason. The BSF is deployed on the Indo-Bangladesh border to foster a sense of security among the people living in the border area and to prevent trans-border crimes, unauthorized entry into or exit from the territory of India,” the statement reads.

It further said, “Additionally, the BSF is responsible for preventing smuggling and other illegal activities along the border.”

Banerjee made the allegations during her speech at Prannath High School in Chanmari area at a rally to kick off the TMC’s election campaign for the ensuing panchayat polls.

“I met the families of those who were shot dead by the BSF a few days ago. They have done the same in the past as well. They shot dead four people in Sitalkuchi too,” she said.

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Four people were killed in firing by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel who were attacked by a mob in Sitalkuchi area of Cooch Behar during the fourth round, which was termed as the bloodies, of high-octane West Bengal Assembly elections in 2021.

“BSF should remember that they cannot act arbitrarily as law and order is a state subject falling under the purview of the state government, not the Centre. If they intimidate you, report it to the police,” the CM said on Monday.

Contrary to the allegations, the BSF stated, “No complaints of intimidation have been received by the BSF or any other relevant agency thus far. The BSF remains fully committed to ensuring a peaceful and unhindered electoral process in the border and other areas.”

The BSF also highlighted that its personnel are deployed for election duty, which they perform under the overall supervision of the local administration.

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