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1 killed during violence in West Bengal civic polls

Amidst incidents of violence that left one dead and reports of alleged malpractices, polling for the 91 municipalities across West Bengal registered 16 per cent voter turnout in the first two hours on Saturday.

While one person was shot dead in Bardhaman district, another person suffered bullet injury in North 24 Parganas district.

OSD, State Election Commission Sabyasachi Ghosh said, “In the first two hours 16 per cent polling has been recorded. There have been complaints of violence in various parts of the state where the polls are on.Whenever we are receiving any report or complaint we are asking the appropriate authorities to take action.”

In Bardhaman district, 30-year old Indrajit Singh was shot at from point blank range at a polling booth near Katwa bus stand. He died on the spot.

District Magistrate Saumitra Mohan has sought a report from the polling officials on the incident.

The Trinamool Congress alleged that Singh, a party supporter, was shot dead while trying to prevent booth jamming at Ward No. 14 by a gangster.

SP Kunal Agarwal said, there were reports of bombing from several wards in Katwa and police were verifying the claims.

At Titagarh in North 24 Parganas district, a 55-year-old man sustained bullet injury while standing in a queue before Andhra Vidyalaya in Ward No. 6.

The voter Panchu Sonkar, who suffered bullet injury on his foot, was taken to the local B N Bose Hospital and was now in stable condition.

A senior district police officer said the identity of the assailant was not known.

The SEC OSD, however, said he did not have any confirmation about the two incidents.

CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty accused the TMC leadership of turning the election into a “farce“.

“Just like the KMC polls they are trying to convert the municipal polls into a farce. The people will put up a resistance against this. The SEC and police have become tools of TMC,” he said.

TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee rubbished the allegations and said the opposition has lost public support.

“They have lost public support, they know they will lose. So they are trying to disturb the peaceful atmosphere and making baseless allegations,” Mr. Chatterjee said.

North 24 Parganas district police officials said, shots were fired at a CPI(M) candidate at Ward No. 2 in North Dumdum Municipality area.

In Basirhat area of North 24 Parganas, local voters resisted attempts by some miscreants to stop the normal voting process there.

In Ward No. 16 of South Dum Dum Municipality, video footage of Trinamool polling agents directing the voters to cast their votes in favour of party candidate was aired. The Trinamool leadership denied the allegations and said the footage was morphed to malign the party.

The CPI(M) also alleged that there were instances of intimidating voters by Trinamool supporters at Sonamukhi area in Bankura district. The TMC, however, refuted the allegations.

BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh charged that the polling process was rigged.

“The voters are traumatised. Nobody is allowed to vote, it is a huge rigging that is happening today in the civic polls. It is daylight murder of democracy under Mamata Banerjee and her government has not done a single thing for the people of Bengal,” he charged.

Polling for the civic bodies began at 7 a.m. on Saturday for which 35 companies of central forces besides state forces have been deployed.

Our Kolkata Bureau adds:

“During the civic polls in the districts 31 companies of BSF would be deployed in Siliguri, Malda, North and South Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Nadia and North 24 Parganas district,” Chief Electoral Officer S.R. Upadhyay said on Friday.

Poll officials, especially Mr. Upadhyay, came under fire from the media and the opposition following last Saturday’s Kolkata civic polls prompting the administration to engage 31 companies of paramilitary forces in an “area domination” exercise. Such exercises are normally conducted by paramilitary forces in insurgency prone areas.

But the Kolkata poll was no less violent.

Opposition alleged that a “low intensity violence followed by large scale rigging” was orchestrated by Trinamool Congress, an allegation that the ruling party has disputed.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 12:48:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/voting-begins-in-west-bengal-civic-polls/article7140592.ece

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