11 dead in Bengal panchayat poll violence
The Panchayat polls came to an end on Sunday with the final phase being the bloodiest. Eleven people were killed with Murshidabad accounting for 10. HT reports.Updated: May 19, 2008, 02:51 IST
The Panchayat polls came to an end on Sunday with the final phase being the bloodiest. Eleven people were killed with Murshidabad accounting for 10, even as unofficial figures put the toll much higher at 14.
In all, 19 people were killed in the three-phased polls with eight deaths in phase II. That's two more than the 17 killed — including 11 CPI-M supporters — during polling in Domkal, Murshidabad, on May 11, 2003. Ironically, the government had argued security arrangements would be better managed if polls were held in three phases
With five of the dead being CPM workers and three belonging to the Congress, it was only natural for a blame game to begin. The CPM’s Biman Bose pointed an accusing finger at the Congress but had no answer to whether the administration had taken enough pre-emptive measures in the first place. “I believe people should be more vigilant, stop troublemakers and protect their rights,” he said. And while he called the violence unfortunate, he was quick to add it was nothing in comparison to the 74 deaths in pre-and post-poll violence in 2003. Congress strongman from Murshidabad MP Adhir Chowdhury blamed it on the administration, saying “the police helped the CPM”.
In a rerun of phase II, gunshots and bombs marked the day. Domkal reported eight deaths, Jalangi, Laalgola and Birbhum one each. In Domkol, the violence was a result of the CPM-Congress fight. The former is desperate to regain it after losing it in 2003, the Congress to retain it. Over 100 were arrested in connection with the violence. There were also reports of booth-capturing and rigging.
CRPF DIG gets clean chit
CRPF DIG Alok Raj has got a clean chit in connection with the molestation charges brought against him by two women of Nandigram during phase I of the panchayat polls. IG Rakesh Gupta, who conducted the probe, found that at the time of the alleged incident, Raj was in a meeting.