Bengal

Kolkata: With reports of nine more deaths coming from different areas during the past 24 hours, the toll in day-long violence during the three-tier panchayat elections in West Bengal rose to 21 on Tuesday with about 45 to 50 others, including some women, still in different hospitals for treatment of grievous injuries. Most of these deaths occurred after some of the seriously injured in yesterday’s violence succumbed to injuries in various hospitals since last night, reports reaching here today said.

Among the dead were two Trinamool Congress supporters who suffered grievous injuries during clashes at Sutkabari area in Coochbehar district and at Tapan in South Dinajpur district and died early on Tuesday, the reports said adding three more people were also killed at Habra (North 24 Parganas) Kultali (South 24 Parganas) and in Malda town today after renewed clashes between rival party supporters broke out.

Though the identity of all these people was known, their political affiliations could not be confirmed as both the Trinamool Congress and Congress were claiming them as their supporters. It may be recalled that as many as 12 people were killed during the Panchayat elections on Monday itself in violent clashes between rival party supporters while resorting to booth capturing, rigging and other electoral malpractices in various districts in both North and South Bengal.

While Trinamool Congress Spokesman and state Education minister Partha Chattopadhyay claimed that at least six of the 12 deceased belonged to the ruling party and disclosed their names, the opposition BJP, Congress and the CPI (M) also said that they had lost two supporters each after they were either shot dead or mercilessly beaten to death by the Trinamool Congress workers in several districts. Since all these deaths occurred in violation of Calcutta High Court order for a free fair and completely peaceful panchayat elections and the guarantee given by the state Election Commission as well as the state government, at least two opposition parties including the CPI (M) had decided to move to the Calcutta High court once again seeking justice. Meanwhile, the court has also decided to accept the appeal and start a fresh hearing after the summer vacation.

A Bar Council member has also reportedly submitted the video footage of some of the major incidents of violence that took place during the polling yesterday in several districts, to the Division Bench of the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court adding a new dimension to the case. It may now also be recalled that Calcutta High Court Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya issued a stern warning to the state Election Commission last week about adequate security measures to prevent violence and maintain an absolute peace during the one-day panchayat poll in over 38,000 booths across 20 districts. Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of the bloodiest in recent memory despite an appeal by the chief minister and causing concern to all.