Two killed, body found during third phase of panchayat polls

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Kolkata, July 19: Two persons were killed, while the body of a teenager was fished out from a pond, as stray incidents of violence, booth jamming and rigging were reported during the third phase of the panchayat elections in West Bengal today which saw a turnout of around 75 per cent.

State Election Commission sources said that there was around 75 per cent turnout in the three districts of South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and Howrah.

Trinamool Congress supporter Sanat Ghosh was shot dead in at Morapai under Usti police station in South 24 Parganas, Superintendent of Police Pravin Tripathi told PTI.

A 65-year-old man, Motherbux Mullick was fatally injured in a bomb explosion in Bodai gram panchayat under Amdanga police in North 24 Parganas district and died in Barasat hospital, Superintendent of Police Sugata Sen said.

The CPI(M) claimed that Mullick was a party supporter.

At Ghutiarishariff in South 24 Parganas, the body of 16-year-old Somnath Mukhopadhay with wounds was recovered from a pond, Additional SP K Barui said.

He, however, said that it could be the result of personal rivalry and not related to the elections.

Notwithstanding the incidents of violence, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed at an election rally at Rampurhat in Birbhum district that the third phase of elections was peaceful, even though an ‘alienated’ CPI(M) was crying hoarse about terror.

Alleging that the CPI(M) had conspired to stall the elections, Ms. Banerjee said, “When their plan fizzled out they are shouting about terror. People are not with them.”

On allegations of improper deployment of central forces for the polls, Governor M K Narayanan said, “Centre has given the forces. They are quite generous. It is quite important to ensure safety and security of the people and instill a sense of confidence. I hope the forces will be deployed.

“The first phase was well, the second was not so well,” he said.

On the ongoing third and the next two phases he said, “Let us see.”

In the second phase of the elections three persons had been killed in Burdwan district.

WBPCC President Pradip Bhattacharjee alleged that central forces were not properly deployed.

Asked if central force deployment was the responsibility of the State Election Commission, he said the commission wanted to use the forces, but could not do so as the state government did not help.

Former finance minister and CPI(M) leader Asim Dasgupta also questioned why central forces were not deployed and asked for the reason behind it.

CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose alleged that there was widespread rigging in North and South 24 Parganas, while Marxist supporters were beaten up in Howrah district and prevented from voting.

Incidents of clashes between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M) with bombs were reported from Amdanga, in North 24 Parganas, the SP said.

Road blockades by CPI(M) supporters, protesting against alleged booth jamming were reported from urban areas of Shyamnagar, Lake Town, Sodepur, Dunlop, Dum Dum and the first gate of the airport in North 24 Parganas, the SP said.

Rail blockades by CPI(M) supporters for an hour disrupting suburban railway services were reported from Shyamnagar, Madhyamgram and Dum Dum railway stations, he said.

Protests were also held by the CPI(M) in the Barrackpore industrial belt.

At Kamduni in North 24 Parganas, where a college girl student was brutally raped and murdered on June 7, voter turnout was low, a report said.

The villagers said that they did not vote as they had not received justice.

Stray incidents of violence were reported from Chandaneswar in Bhangor police station area and Chota under Mahestala police station, the South 24 Parganas SP said.

In Kulpi, voting was stalled for three and a half hours as ballot papers were wrongly folded by the polling officer, he said.

In Chota, the process was disrupted for half an hour because of proxy voting. When voters protested the police made a lathi-charge and dispersed them, he said.

Incidents of booth jamming were alleged by the Congress in Matla-II in Canning, while the CPI(M) made similar allegations about Basanti and Bhangor areas.

In Howrah district, three booths at a school in Kachra Primary School witnessed scuffles between TMC and CP(M) supporters and several ballot boxes were snatched away leading to suspension of voting, police sources said.

At another school, there was an incident of stone pelting between TMC and CPI(M) supporters which damaged the windows of the office of the presiding officer, they said.

Bombs were hurled by TMC and CPI(M) supporters at Joypur which led to suspension of voting. Bombs were also hurled at Bankra area nearby, the sources said.

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