West Bengal Panchayat election: Over 40 injured as violence mars rural polls, state election commission seeks report

As soon as the polling began in West Bengal Panchayat poll, the incidents of violence have been reported from various places across the districts.

BJP supporter in Bilkanda hospitalised after attacked with a knife by TMC Cadres(Image: ANI)

Violence spread across the state as polling for the panchayat elections began in West Bengal Monday morning. First reports of violence came in from Bhangar where voting began at 7 am today. 7 people are reported to be killed so far and more than 40 people are reported to have been injured in the violence across the districts in the state. This, despite the deployment of around 46,000 personnel of West Bengal Police, 12, 000 of Kolkata Police and 1,500 security personnel from other states. The involvement of cadres belonging to ruling Trinamool Congress in the violence has also surfaced. The West Bengal unit of Congress party also demonstrates a protest outside State Election Commission’s office in Kolkata.

Congress staged protest out SEC office in Kolkata. (Image: ANI)

In view of the reported violence, the Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) has directed the authorities to take strict action in curbing it.

Trinamool Congress workers vandalised a polling booth in North Dinajpur’s Sonadangi. A ballot box which was thrown at a pond by TMC workers was retrieved. In Murshidabad, the unidentified gunmen have looted the ballot boxes at booth number 44, 45 and 45k. Meanwhile, two Independent candidates were shot dead at Paschim Medinipur’s Nandigram, reported ABP Ananda.

A video footage from Asansol’s Raniganj area showed that few people were vandalising a vehicle. It is not known so far about the details of the vehicle or of the people.

Trinamool Congress General Secretary and state minister Partha Chatterjee called the violence as a minor incident. Speaking to news agency ANI, Chatterjee said, “There are minor incidents taking place, no major incidents have been reported. The administration is active in places where such clashes have taken place. Voting is being conducted peacefully. I strongly condemn the attack on journalists.”

Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee. (Image: ANI)

While BJP leader and Union Minister Babul Supriyo demanded the imposition of Art 356 in the state. Speaking to ANI, Supriyo said, “Not surprised by all the incidents that are happening since morning. Bengal govt is a shameless govt, you cannot expect them to follow any kind of constitutional behaviour. I demand President’s Rule in WB.”

Union Minister Babul Supriyo. (Image: ANI)

Another BJP leader Sudhanshu Trivedi also slammed the West Bengal government for failing to curb the violence. “Highly condemnable & deplorable, it signifies that culture of political violence under TMC has engulfed entire WestBengal & it is an alarming sign for democracy,” Trivedi told ANI.

Sudhanshu Trivedi, BJP (Image: ANI)

The violence also broke out between two opposition parties namely BJP and CPI(M) at Burdwan’s Durgapur. The supporters of both the parties hurled stones at each other. No security personnel were seen on the spot. In Nadia’s Nakasipara, a Trinamool Congress leader was shot dead by an unknown miscreants, reports ABP Ananda.

At least five journalists of a regional media were injured after violence reported in Birpara. The journalists went to cover the reports of booth capturing allegedly by TMC workers. All the journalists were admitted to local hospital for treatment.

Five Journalists injured at Birpara. (Image: ANI)

Meanwhile, the state election commission has sought a report from the district magistrate of Cooch Behar after reports of violence at polling booths. In North Bengal’s Cooch Behar, West Bengal Minister Rabindra Nath Ghosh slapped a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker at booth no. 8/12. The BJP worker was slapped in the presence of police. However, the locals present on the spot saved the BJP worker from the clutches of alleged TMC workers. In a separate incident, 20 persons were injured in a clash that broke out between two groups in Cooch Behar. The injured have been taken to local MJN hospital for treatment. The victim alleged that TMC goons have attacked them. “We went there to vote but people belonging to TMC attacked us with sticks,” the local said to ANI.

Elsewhere in Birpara, the Trinamool Congress workers are reported to have barred voters from entering booth number 14/79. They stopped the voters in the mid-way. The cadres were seen moving with lathis. They even draw a line on the road and asked the voters not to cross the line. No policemen were found patrolling the area.

In Bilkanda, a BJP candidate Raju Biswas was injured after he was attacked with a knife. The candidate has alleged that TMC workers were behind the attack. The BJP worker has been admitted to local hospital and is undergoing treatment at Panihati General hospital. In Malda, considered to be the stronghold of Congress, a Congress candidate at Sujapur seat was attacked with a knife and is undergoing treatment at a local hospital. The party alleged that TMC goons were behind it. The clash also took place between the supporters of ruling TMC and opposition Congress in different areas of the district.

CPIM workers charred to death in North 24 Paraganas. (Image: ANI)

Meanwhile, Nabanna, the state secretariat has sought a report from Superintendent of Police (SP), South 24 Paraganas on the alleged violence in Bhangar, reported ABP Ananda. The move comes after a media van was torched in Bhangar and a camera was broken. The TMC cadres have restricted the media persons from entering the area. No security personnel were present on the site during the incident. The locals have blocked the roads alleging the capture of the poll booth by TMC cadres in the area.

In Murshidabad, the State Election Commission has stopped the voting process till further orders. This comes after ballot papers were found thrown in a pond near the booth after a clash broke out between TMC and BJP. In North 24 Parganas, Amdanga, 20 people were injured after a crude bomb exploded in its Sadhanpur area. The incident of firing by TMC goons also reported from inside a poll booth.

Ballot papers thrown at a pond. (Image: ANI)

In South 24 Paraganas’ Kultali area a Trinamool Congress worker Arif Gazi was shot dead by unknown persons. The party has alleged of the role of SUCI behind the attack, reports ABP Ananda.

TMC workers shot dead at Kultali. (Image: ANI)


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