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Violence Mars Civic Polls in Bengal; Opposition Complains of Rigging

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated: May 14, 2017, 7:42 PM IST
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Violence Mars Civic Polls in Bengal; Opposition Complains of Rigging
Masked men terrorising opposition party supporters in West Bengal.(Photo: News18)

Kolkata: Sporadic violence, including gunfight and explosions, marred the civic polls in three municipalities out of seven in West Bengal on Sunday.

The most disturbing news came from Pujali in South 24-Parganas, Raigunj in North Dinajpur and Domkal in Murshidabad. In these three areas, armed men were seen roaming on motorcycles to terrorise the voters. In some of the booths they forcibly entered and destroyed the EVM machines and hurled crude bombs.

In Pujali, BJP complained of massive electoral malpractices, booth capturing and rigging by the TMC.

All opposition parties, including BJP, CPI-M and Congress, have alleged widespread violence and booth-capturing by Trinamool Congress workers. They have demanded re-polling of elections in Pujali, Raigunj and in Domkal.

In the evening, CPI-M and Congress workers gathered in front of State Election Commission office and resorted to a sit-in after they were denied permission to meet state election officials. They raised slogans against the poll body for failing to conduct free and fair polls.

Addressing the media, CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra, said,"The ruling party has unleashed terror in most of the municipal seats. Such violence in civic polls was never seen before. TMC goons were seen roaming freely – unchallenged - with crude bombs and firearms. We want the elections to be countermanded."

"Three of our supporters were injured in firing by miscreants at Pujali. We want that stern action be taken against the miscreants," he added.

Citizens stand in a queue to cast their votes. (Photo: News18)

Speaking to News18, BJP state secretary, Sayantan Basu said, "It is unfortunate that the local administration has failed to control the law and order situation in these areas. Trinamool goons were seen threatening our supporters with fire arms and chopper in their hands. In some places voting was going poeacefully but goons backed by TMC hurled crude bombs to terrorise our voters."

"It is unfortunate the even journalists were not spared and beaten up mercilessly," he said.

West Bengal Congress president Adhir Chowdhury too demanded cancellation of the elections alleging booth capturing by TMC supporters. "I had told my party candidates in Domkal that there is no point taking interest in this election because we can't do anything in front of TMC's goons - backed by police. In most of the places, Congress agents dragged out of polling booths in Murshidabad," he said.

TMC general secretary Partha Chatterjee rubbished all allegations and said, "It is a desperate attempt by the BJP and Congress to win the civic polls. In most of the places BJP-Congress goons were involved in violence and we want stern action against them."

In Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Mirik and Kurseong the polling has been more or less peaceful. BJP has not fielded any candidate in the Hills because of their alliance with the GJM.

The outcome of poll results in the Hills will be crucial for TMC because the ruling party has so far failed to make any presence in the Hills due to Bimal Gurung-led Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). Also, it will be a litmus test for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Till 5 PM, polling pecentages (in all the 148 wards) at Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik, Kalimpong, Raigunj, Domkal and Pujali were reported at 49.4%, 59.8%, 71.6%, 54.4%, 62.2%, 74.1% and 78.0% respectively.

ALSO READ: 7 Municipalities in West Bengal Vote Today After a Bitter Campaign

First Published: May 14, 2017, 7:12 PM IST
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