Violence mars West Bengal panchayat elections

Violence broke out in North 24 Parganas, Burdwan, Coochbehar and South 24 Parganas districts

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West Bengal: Within less than two hours after the polling began for the single phase panchayat elections in West Bengal today, the State Election Commission has received complains of violence from at least four districts from different parts the State and has asked the police to take action, officials said.

Violence broke out in North 24 Parganas, Burdwan, Coochbehar and South 24 Parganas districts.

In North 24 Parganas, the BJP accused the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) of letting loose a reign of terror in several parts of the district, especially in Amdanga area.

A few people were injured when clashes broke out between two groups, SEC sources said.

Senior minister Jyotipriyo Mullick denied the involvement of the TMC in the incident and accused BJP of terrorising the voters.

In Dinhata area of Coochbehar district in North Bengal, a few voters were injured after clashes broke out between two groups outside a polling station, the sources said. The voters, later on, lodged a police complaint.

Violence was reported in Burdwan districts too. The opposition CPI(M) and BJP had accused the TMC of terrorising voters and hurling bombs outside polling stations. The TMC has termed the allegations as baseless.

The polling is taking place in 621 Zilla Parishads and 6,157 panchayat samitis, besides in 31,827-gram panchayats, spread across 20 districts, the State Election Commission said.

 

The run-up to the polls has also witnessed a series of court cases, and also experienced several clashes across districts between supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Opposition BJP, Congress and the Left.

The opposition had accused the ruling TMC of letting loose a reign of terror during the nomination process. The TMC rubbished the allegations and had said the opposition does not have a mass base and are trying to evade the polls.

On the other hand, Trinamool termed these allegations as baseless and appealed voters to vote for development. However, Trinamool Congress leader Arabul Islam was even sent to 10 days’ police custody in connection with the killing of a supporter of an Independent candidate.

Around 1,500 security personnel from Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh are in the State to reinforce security for the polls.

They are aiding around 46,000 personnel of the State police and 12,000 of the Kolkata Police.

The State government is using close to 2,000 security personnel from the departments of excise, prison and forests in manning the booths, an SEC official said.