Eight, final phase of polling kicks off in Bengal amid sporadic violence
The eighth and final phase of the crucial assembly polls in West Bengal kicked off on Thursday morning amid sporadic violence.
A CPIM worker was killed while two others were injured at Domkal in Murshidabad on Wednesday night, hours before voting began. The dead has been identified as Kader Ali Mondol.
Local CPIM workers alleged that Trinamool Congress candidate Jafikul Islam was in the area on Wednesday night to threaten people. They say he had a convoy of seven-eight cars which fled when a crowd gathered. However, one of the fleeing cars hit CPIM workers, they said.
Islam refuted the charges, saying he had only one car accompanying his and that the incident might have occurred after he left the area.
“Polls are being held by and large peacefully with no major incidents of violence. We have details from the Murshidabad police,” said a senior official of the Election Commission.
However, sporadic violence continued to rock various assembly constituencies where voting was being held. At Labhpur in Birbhum, state police and central forces carried out massive raids in some houses of Hatiya village, after inputs that crude bombs were hidden in some houses.
“Raids have been carried out since last night and one person has been detained. Investigation is going on,” said a senior police official.
At Nanur, another constituency in the same district, a few bombs were hurled late on Wednesday night and in the early hours of Thursday. Bombs were also hurled in central Kolkata on Thursday, sparking off tension among the voters. Police rushed to the spot.
Bombs were hurled at least three places in north Kolkata, including Rabindra Sarani and Bidhan Sarani.
Mina Debi Purohit, BJP candidate of Jorasanko, alleged: “TMC is afraid so they’re hurling bombs to scare me and voters away.”
However, TMC candidate Vivek Gupta said, “They (BJP) are afraid of losing and hence resorting to such tactics. This won’t have any effect [on voting] and they are bound to lose.”
A large police contingent was deployed to diffuse the tension. Raid were carried out in some houses, including a five-storey building.
Clashes were reported from Beleghata while a scuffle broke out between the TMC and BJP workers at Maniktola in north Kolkata.
Maniktola BJP candidate Kalyan Chaubey alleged that he was heckled by TMC workers in front of the police. The TMC, however, refuted the charges and said that it was Chaubey who triggered a chaos when voting was going on peacefully in the area.
Voting is being held in 35 seats across four districts of West Bengal, including Kolkata. This will bring the curtain down on a month-long poll season. The high stakes political battle between the BJP and the TMC was overshadowed by the surge in Covid-19 infections in the state.
Fresh polling will also be held at booth No 126 in the Sitalkuchi constituency of Cooch Behar district where four men were killed in firing by central armed police forces after the forces were allegedly attacked by locals on April 10.