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One Dead as Clashes Mar Panchayat Poll Nominations Once Again in Bengal

On Monday, both Congress and the BJP accused the Trinamool Congress of "letting loose a reign of terror" since morning to prevent their candidates from filing their papers.

Sujit Nath | News18

Updated:April 23, 2018, 10:22 PM IST
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One Dead as Clashes Mar Panchayat Poll Nominations Once Again in Bengal
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Kolkata: One person was killed in West Bengal’s Birbhum district on Monday when violent clashes marred the latest attempt at filing of nominations for the panchayat elections. The opposition has once again blamed the Trinamool Congress for “unleashing terror” to prevent their candidates from filing nominations.

Similar clashes earlier this month had disrupted the nomination process in several parts of the state.

On Monday, violent clashes were reported from Suri in Birbhum, Murshidabad, North and South Dinajpur, Bankura, North and South 24-Parganas and Jalpaiguri while both Congress and the BJP accused the Trinamool Congress of "letting loose a reign of terror" since morning to prevent their candidates from filing their papers.

Meanwhile, the State Election Commission (SEC) once again failed to finalise the panchayat poll dates while the meeting between the EC and state government, too, did not happen. Now, the Opposition leaders are planning to move the Calcutta High Court.

In Suri, BJP candidate Mariyam Bibi’s relative Dildar Khan was allegedly killed by TMC workers. However, both Trinamool and BJP claimed that Dildar belong to their party. His family members, too, gave contradictory statements.

In the afternoon, his relatives claimed that he was killed by henchmen of local TMC leader Prabir Dhar but in the evening they changed their statement and claimed that he was a TMC worker.

State BJP President Dilip Ghosh said, “Since morning, TMC workers have been trying to prevent our workers from filing nominations. They were being helped by the police. They have killed one of our workers, Dildar. He was a member of the BJP minority cell. His family members are changing their statement after being pressurised by the Trinamool. We will once again approach the high court to seek justice.”

Birbhum TMC leader, Anubrata Mondal, too sounded a similar note and claimed that Dildar belonged to his party. “He was a TMC worker and he was killed by the BJP goons,” he said.

Making a bizarre claim, he defended the armed villagers in Birbhum, saying, “They are villagers and came to town to sharpen their weapons because in the interior villages, such facilities are not available. Most of the people depend on such tools for their day-to-day life. There is nothing unusual about it. There is no need to hype this matter.”

Taking note of the clashes and disruptions, the Calcutta High Court had on Friday directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to extend the date of filing of nomination papers.

All opposition parties in West Bengal — BJP, Congress and CPI(M) — raised complaints that TMC “goons” had attacked their party workers with crude bombs and firearms.

"Since the morning, goons of the TMC are trying to terrorise our candidates. The police and administration are mute spectators," state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said.

In Murshidabad, a Congress MLA was brutally attacked with sticks allegedly by TMC supporters while shocking visuals from Bankura’s Sonamukhi area showed masked men armed with guns — threatening Opposition leaders and preventing them from filing nominations.

Senior BJP leader, Kailash Vijayvargiya said, “Two BJP supporters suffered bullet injuries while several others were critically injured. TMC workers unleashed terror in the state while the local administration stood like mute spectators. In such a situation, it is difficult to conduct free and fair elections in Bengal.”

He added, “BJP will move the Calcutta High Court tomorrow (Tuesday) because we have failed to submit our papers in several places. In Murshidabad, we failed to file even a single nomination. We have collected footage and have even submitted a plea in the court that we were not allowed to submit nomination.”

The SEC had earlier asked the police to make adequate security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident during the filing process.

Senior Trinamool Congress leader Firhad Hakim alleged that the BJP had hired goons from Jharkhand and said, “They are entering Bengal and unleashing a reign of terror. Our party members did not indulge in any violence.”

The dates for the polls, which were earlier scheduled to be held on May 1, 3 and 5, are yet to be announced by the commission.

The nominations received on Monday would be scrutinised on April 25. The last date for the withdrawal of candidature is April 28.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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