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Tripura bypolls | Sporadic violence reported in some areas; 52% turnout

A security person stands guard as people wait in a queue at a polling station to cast their votes for Assembly by-elections, during in Agartala, on June 23.

A security person stands guard as people wait in a queue at a polling station to cast their votes for Assembly by-elections, during in Agartala, on June 23. | Photo Credit: PTI

A policeman was stabbed and an online media journalist was thrashed as sporadic incidents marred the byelections in four Assembly constituencies in Tripura on June 23.

Hooligans prevented voters from reaching the polling stations in some areas despite the enforcement of Section 144 of the CrPC and other prohibitory orders.

Observers of the Election Commission of India (EC) and the State Election Commission (SEC) had earlier said they would ensure free and fair elections in accordance with the guidelines set by the EC. Paramilitary troops were deployed at all the polling stations in the Town Bardowali, Agartala, Surma and Jubarajnagar constituencies.

The Congress party, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) alleged that cadres of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had unleashed terror, booth jamming, rigging, and targeted assaults to turn the elections into a farce. The BJP denied the allegations and said the polls were taking place under the close watch of the EC.

The TMC, which has taken every effort to make its presence felt in the State’s political arena with its high voltage poll campaign, started lodging complaints from late on June 22 night over the alleged attacks, irregularities, and violations of the model code of conduct. The party said its Surma constituency candidate Arjun Namasudra and Agartala constituency candidate Panna Deb had been attacked several times.

The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party also alleged that its polling agents had been forcefully evicted from several polling stations. It also raised doubts over the malfunctioning of electronic voting machines (EVM) reported from some polling centres.

Police and election officials said they were addressing every reported issue. Chief Minister Manik Saha, who is contesting from the Town Bardowali segment, said the bypolls were taking place peacefully.

CPI(M) State secretary Jitendra Choudhury told The Hindu that his party was gathering information from all constituencies and would issue a formal statement later. The CPI(M) is apparently concerned about the Jubarajnagar constituency in north Tripura, which fell vacant following the demise of its veteran Left leader Ramendra Chandra Debnath.

Police said they were investigating “some untoward incidents”, including the stabbing of a policeman outside a polling station. Constable Samir Saha, who is posted as personal security staff of a political leader in north Tripura, and his wife, had gone to caste their vote at the centre at Abhoynagar in 6-Agartala constituency when a group of hooligans prevented them from proceeding. Following a heated exchange, one of the miscreants took out a knife and stabbed Mr. Saha in his stomach. He was shifted to a nearby hospital on time, where he remains admitted.

An online news media journalist was severely assaulted in the Town Bardowali constituency. He has lodged a complaint with the police.

The EC recorded an average of 52% voting till 1 p.m. across all four constituencies.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2022 3:24:20 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/tripura-assembly-bypolls-june-23-2022-polling-updates/article65556018.ece