Sporadic violence was reported in the first phase of panchayat elections in West Bengal covering three districts of Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia, where 25-30 per cent polling was recorded in the first four hours of voting.

“We are getting reports of sporadic violence and scuffles in some places, especially Sabong,” SEC secretary Tapas Ray said.

The police said 11 people, including a Trinamool gram panchayat candidate, were injured in a clash between Trinamool Congress and Congress workers at Sabong in Paschim Medinipur district.

Five of the injured were taken to the Medinipur Sadar Hospital, the police said.

In another incident, opposition leader and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Surya Kanta Mishra was involved in an altercation with local Trinamool Congress supporters outside a polling booth at Khadurdah Gram Panchayat area in Paschim Medinipur district.

Police sources said Mr. Mishra had an altercation with a group after coming out of the booth where he went to cast votes but he was not manhandled. He was later escorted to his car, they said.

SEC officials said that till 11 am, 30 per cent voter turnout had been recorded in Paschim Medinipur while 25 per cent each in Bankura and Purulia.

The entire Jangalmahal area has been put under a strict security blanket for the last few days with central forces patrolling the area.

A helicopter has been kept ready in the Paschim Medinipur district, in case an emergency security situation arises, as the area was till recently a Maoist stronghold.