West Bengal Assembly Elections | Sporadic violence marks fifth phase

78.36% electors had exercised their franchise till 5 p.m. in the polling held in 45 Assembly constituencies.

Updated - April 18, 2021 08:00 am IST

Published - April 17, 2021 08:41 pm IST - Kolkata

A health worker sanitise voters at a polling station during the fifth phase of West Bengal Assembly elections, in Kolkata on April 17, 2021.

A health worker sanitise voters at a polling station during the fifth phase of West Bengal Assembly elections, in Kolkata on April 17, 2021.

High voter turnout and sporadic incidents of violence marked the fifth phase of elections in West Bengal on Saturday.

Polling was held in 45 Assembly seats across six districts — three in north Bengal and three in south Bengal. Till 5 p.m. about 78.36 % voters had exercised their franchise. 

Highest voting of 81.73% was observed in Jalpaiguri, followed by 81.72% in Purba Bardhaman and Nadia in which 81.57% polling was observed. This voting percentage is expected to rise. 

While the locals alleged that there was firing at Deganga Assembly segment in North 24 Parganas by central armed police forces, the report by the Superintendent of Police, Barasat denied the allegation.

West Bengal elections phase 5 updates | April 17, 2021

“The elections were peaceful; today a few incidents were reported,” Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab said. The CEO said 23 persons were arrested in specific incidents during the day and 100 were arrested as part of preventive measures. 

At Ranaghat in Nadia, an independent candidate Kaushik Bhowmick was arrested after a firearm was recovered from his possession. Violence was reported at Santipur police station area in Nadia when miscreant lobbed crude bombs on a person, who suffered injuries and rushed to hospital. 

At Gayeshpur in Nadia, the house of the BJP supporter was damaged when TMC supporters broke open his door, barged in and ransacked his house. The CEO said senior police officers are in Gayeshpur and a night camp of police will be stationed in the area. 

Besides Nadia where eight Assembly seats went to polls, violence between supporters TMC and BJP was reported in North 24 parganas where polling was held for 16 seats.

Biddhanagar and Baranagar two constituencies bordering Kolkata witnessed largescale violence scenes when supporters of TMC and BJP clashed. Supporters of both parties hurled bricks and stones at each other and also engaged in physical violence in Shantinagar area of Bidhannagar. A huge contingent of central forces had to be rushed in to control the situation as tension prevailed and candidates of both parties visited the area.

Candidates gheraoed

In Baranagar constituency, BJP candidate and actor Parno Mitra was allegedly gheraoed by TMC activists while she was touring the constituency. Later in the day the TMC supporters alleged that personnel of central forces used force against them. In adjoining Kamarhati constituency, BJP candidate Raju Banerjee alleged that he was attacked by TMC supporters at the behest of TMC candidate Madan Mitra. 

In the fifth phase of elections the ECI has deployed highest number of 1071 companies of central forces. Despite the unprecedented deployment of forces, voters and polling agents alleged that they are being threatened. At Minakha in North 24 Parganas the family members of the polling agent alleged that the agent was abducted. There were reports of some scuffle in Bardhaman including at Monteshwar where the TMC candidate Siddiqulah Chowdhury alleged that accused central forces of acting against TMC supporters. Polling was peaceful in north Bengal where elections were held on 13 seats in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri.

Spike in cases 

The polling was held on a day when the State registered a record 7,713 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours.

The number of deaths also increased significantly with 34 people succumbing to the viral infection.

The Election Commission has barred campaigning from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. and extended the silence period from 48 hrs to 72 hrs in each of remaining three phases of West Bengal polls. On Friday the State record 6,910 cases of new COVID-19 and 26 people died of the infection. 

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