79 percent polling in Bengal’s third phase, one dead in violence (Roundup)

Kolkata, April 21 (IANS) Amid incidents of violence that left one person dead and several others injured, West Bengal saw over 79 percent votes cast in 62 constituencies on Thursday in phase three of the assembly elections.

Amid sweltering heat, incidents of violence were reported in parts of Murshidabad, Nadia, Kolkata and Burdwan districts, while the Left Front and the Congress demanded repolling in 15 booths of Domkal constituency.

The constituencies that went to polls included 22 in Murshidabad, 17 in Nadia, 16 in Burdwan districts and seven in north Kolkata.

“At 5 p.m., the overall polling percentage was 79.22 percent,” Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta said.

The turnout in Murshidabad was 79.29 percent, Nadia 81.62 percent, Burdwan 78.26 percent, and Kolkata (North) 57.06 percent,” said Gupta.

Tahidul Islam, said to be a Communist Party of India-Marxist activist, was killed in Domkal of Murshidabad district. However, Additional Director General of Police Anuj Sharma said according to the FIR, the victim’s name was Tahidul Mondal.

Ten people were injured in various incidents, while 232 people were arrested, he said. “Of them, 169 were arrested in the districts and 63 in Kolkata. The number of arrests under preventive sections of the Indian Penal Code was 225, while seven others had specific cases against them.”

Gupta said seven presiding officers were removed for “inefficiency and to speed up the polling process”.

A block Level Officer, Rabindranath Ghosh, died of heatstroke in Mangalkot constituency of Burdwan district.

Election Commission officials received 2,777 complaints, including of violence, voter intimidation and disruption of the poll process. Altogetehr 2,322 complaints have been disposed off.

Regarding the killing in Domkal, the district administration in its report to the Election Commission said Tahidul did not die “in any clash or bomb blast”.

“The body of Tahidul Islam was found 500 metres away from Haridoba Notunpara with a sharp cut injury. Apparently, he was murdered by unknown people and the body was placed on the road.”

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidate from Domkal Anisur Rahaman claimed that Tahidul was his polling agent and blamed the Trinamool Congress for the killing. But the ruling party claimed the death was a result of a clash between the CPI-M and Congress supporters. The district administration denied that Tahidul was a polling agent.

At least four others were attacked in Domkal allegedly for casting their votes.

Reports of violence were also received from Ketugram in Burdwan district where three people were injured after crude bombs were hurled near a polling booth.

Several crude bombs were also seized from near a booth at Saguna in Nadia district.

Voters in Chakdaha in Nadia district alleged they were “prevented from voting by Trinamool goons”.

At least four people were injured in Mangalkote of Burdwan with Trinamool’s Siddiqullah Chowdhury accusing the CPI-M for the attack.

Complaints of voter intimidation and scuffles between rival political activists were also received from several booths in Kolkata, including Beliaghta and Entally. A mediaperson was among the injured.

Union Minister Babul Supriyo was seen chasing a “drunkard” in a lane of north Kolkata’s Jorasanko constituency and handing him over to the police. Supriyo is a voter of the constituency.

Accusing the ruling Trinamool of indulging in “massive rigging” and booth capturing in Domkal, the alliance partners demanded repoll in 15 polling booths.

Left Front spearhead CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said there were disturbances in six-seven constituencies.

“We think there should be repoll in 15 polling booths of Domkal constituency,” said Mishra, whose demand was seconded by state Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

However, Mishra expressed overall satisfaction over the role of the Election Commission.

Over 1.37 crore (1,37,42,000) voters were eligible to elect their legislators across 16,461 polling stations, including 10 auxiliary booths, from among 418 candidates, including 34 women.

The ruling Trinamool and the Bharatiya Janata Party are contesting all 62 constituencies in the third phase.

The Left Front-Congress alliance is in fray for all the 62 constituencies. But the Congress nominees are also clashing with those from the Left Front in 11 seats — 10 in Murshidabad and one in Nadia.

Among the major candidates in the third phase are state ministers and Trinamool contestants Rabiranjan Chattopadhyay, Sashi Panja, Sadhan Pandey, former state minister and CPI-M candidates Anisur Rahaman and Debesh Das, Congress legislature party leader Mohammad Sohrab and former state party president Somendranath Mitra, and BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha.

Earlier voters in 105 of the state’s total 294 assembly constituencies exercised their right to franchise on April 4, 11 and 17 in the first two phases.

Polling in the fourth, fifth and sixth phases will be held on April 25, 30 and May 5 for 49, 53 and 25 constituencies respectively.

–indo-Asian News Service

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