Accident, not attack that left Mamata injured, says EC

The Election Commission on Sunday ruled out any attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during her campaign in Nandigram Assembly constituency on Wednesday evening, saying it was an accident that resulted in her injuries.

The poll panel said it could not find any significant pointers to suggest any pre-meditated or planned attack on Banerjee’ convoy and contended that there was lack of coordination between security arrangements by the police headquarters and local Superintendent of Police due to frequent changes to the Chief Minister’s programme.

There is no evidence of an attack carried out on the West Bengal Chief Minister, it said, basing its conclusion on the report submitted by the EC’s special observers Ajay Nayak and Vivek Dubey on the incident.

Based on the report from the special observers, the commission said that Director (Security) Vivek Sahay, who was ultimately in charge of her security, failed in prevailing upon the Chief Minister to not flout security protocols.

“In fact, Sahay was sitting in the bullet-proof vehicle meant for her.”

EC observers have suggested stringent action against Sahay and removal of the East Midnapore District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police.

The commission said that no approval was taken from returning officer for the place where the incident happened and there was blatant disregard of security protocols.

Earlier on Saturday, the poll observers found the report submitted by the West Bengal government on the alleged attack on Banerjee in Nandigram as “sketchy” and “not comprehensive enough” and asked Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay for more details.

Following Wednesday’s incident, the EC had sought reports from the Bengal Chief Secretary, and its special observer Nayak and special police observer Dubey by Friday evening.

Banerjee, who was on a two-day visit to Nandigram from where she filed her nomination on Wednesday, alleged that she was pushed by a few unidentified people during election campaigning. She had sustained “severe bone injuries” on her left foot and ankle as well as bruises and injuries on her shoulder, forearm and neck, according to the report of her initial medical examination. The Chief Minister was discharged from the hospital on Friday.

The incident took place ahead of West Bengal Assembly elections which is slated to poll in eight phases beginning from March 27. The counting will take place on May 2.