Violence mar WB panchayat polls, 6 killed

Kolkata: Widespread violence marred the panchayat polls in West Bengal today, leaving at least six people dead and 43 injured, with 41...

Kolkata: Widespread violence marred the panchayat polls in West Bengal today, leaving at least six people dead and 43 injured, with 41 per cent polling reported till 1 pm.

The pre-poll clashes between the supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition parties spilled over to several areas in the state, including North and South 24 Parganas, Nadia, Murshidabad and South Dinajpur districts, despite massive security arrangements put in place.

More than 60,000 security personnel from West Bengal and neighbouring states were deployed for the panchayat polls.

"There are reports of six people being killed," a State Election Commission official said.

He said a person was shot dead near a polling booth in Sujapur village in Murshidabad. The victim was a BJP worker, the party's local unit leader Subhas Mondal claimed.

In South Dinajpur, a person was killed and four others were injured after a bomb was hurled outside a polling station in Tapan area, the official said.

Another person died in clashes between two groups outside a polling booth in Nakashipara area in Nadia. Another death was reported from Shantipur area of the district, he said.

A CPI(M) supporter was killed and another was injured when bombs were hurled outside a polling station in the Amdanga area of North 24 Parganas, the official said.

At Kultali in South 24 Parganas, one person was killed when a bomb was hurled outside a polling station, he said.

The SEC official said 41.5 per cent polling was recorded till 1 pm.

In Cooch Behar district, North Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh allegedly slapped a person outside a polling booth, the official said, adding that the SEC has received a complaint about it and asked authorities to take action.

Television channels showed Ghosh slapping the person. However, Ghosh claimed he did not do it.

In Dinhata area of the district, at least 15 people, including voters, were injured after clashes broke out between two groups outside a polling station, police said.

Fifteen people were injured in a clash outside a booth in Nandigram area of East Midnapore district. One person was hit on the head with a knife while another lost his finger, police said.

In Contai area in the district, chilli powder was thrown at an Independent candidate and four others at a polling booth, they said.

In North Dinajpur, three crude bombs were found near a polling booth at Galaisura, around three km from the district headquarter Raiganj, police said.

Of the three bombs, two were found on railway tracks, RPF sources said, adding the bomb squad has been informed.

In Birbhum, masked men carrying weapons and sticks were seen threatening voters outside some of the booths.

Television footage from Basanti block of South 24 Parganas showed masked gunmen outside polling stations.

In Bhangar, which was rocked by pre-poll violence and saw the arrest of a TMC leader, police resorted to lathicharge and burst teargas shells to disperse people following clashes, the SEC official said.

In Keshpur area in West Midnapore, police resorted to lathicharge and chased men allegedly threatening voters.

In Malda, the office-in-charge of Ratua police station Debabrata Chakraborty was injured in stone-pelting by a political party's workers when he went to remove a blockade by the party on a state highway, SP Arnab Ghosh said.

Chakraborty was rushed to the hospital and ASP (HQ) A Sarkar visited the spot, he said.

The panchayat polls is being held after a protracted legal battle in the Kolkata High Court and the Supreme Court involving the SEC, the TMC and the opposition parties.

A state BJP delegation led by district president Dilip Ghosh will meet West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi and complain about the violence. "The TMC has turned the polls into a farce," Dilip Ghosh said.

Senior CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said "democracy has been murdered by TMC in Bengal".

The TMC has termed the allegations baseless and concocted.

"There have been one or two isolated incidents. The administration have taken steps in all the cases. We have seen elections during the Left tenure when we used to witness bloodbath and death," TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said.

Around 1,500 security personnel from Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh are in the state to reinforce the security for the polls. They are aiding around 46,000 personnel of the state police and 12,000 of the Kolkata Police.

-Source: News Agency




Local Glob: Violence mar WB panchayat polls, 6 killed
Violence mar WB panchayat polls, 6 killed
Local Glob
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