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78% voter turnout in 5th phase amid sporadic incidents of violence

78% voter turnout in 5th phase amid sporadic incidents of violence
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Kolkata: Barring a few stray incidents, the fifth phase polls in Bengal spanned across 45 Assembly constituencies in six districts passed off peacefully. The overall voting percentage till 5 pm has been 78.36 per cent with Jalpaiguri registering the highest voting percentage at 81.73 followed by East Burdwan with 81.72 per cent voting.

Nadia witnessed 81.57 per cent voting while North 24-Parganas and Darjeeling had 74.83 and 74.32 per cent voting respectively. Kalimpong recorded the lowest turnout with 69.56 per cent voting. 319 candidates from different political parties are in the fray in this phase that covers all the 7 constituencies in Jalpaiguri, 5 in Darjeeling, 1 in Kalimpong, 8 in Nadia, 16 in North 24-Parganas and 8 in East Burdwan.

Among the major stray incidents associated with the fifth phase polls, state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Aariz Aftab referred to the arrest of an Independent candidate of Chakdah AC in Nadia district for having a firearm in his possession. Koushik Bhowmick, the candidate, was found going around a polling booth at Baliadanga, Daspara area with a country-made gun tucked in his trousers. He dropped the firearm when the Central forces intercepted him after the locals raised a hue and cry.

A booth agent of the BJP Abhijit Samanta died after falling sick at a polling station in Kamarhati, North 24-Parganas. He was rushed to a local hospital where he was declared brought dead.

There was an attack on one Haran Gaur under Santipur police station area in Nadia district in which he sustained leg injuries. The police arrested three persons in connection with the incident and the injured person has been admitted to Santipur State General Hospital.

The residence of a BJP worker was damaged at Gayeshpur under the Kalyani police station area in Nadia district. The Commission has posted a police picket in front of the residence and a night camp has been set up for the safety of residents. The police had detained two persons in connection with the incident.

A TMC booth agent at Galsi in East Burdwan was beaten up allegedly by BJP supporters when he tried to stop them from proxy voting at a polling booth in Jahanpur.

TMC and BJP supporters clashed at Shanti Nagar in Bidhannagar with both the party candidates blaming each other. There was stone-pelting between the two groups and a large police force accompanied by Central forces reached the spot to bring the situation under control.

"The Commission has received 2241 complaints through various platforms today (Saturday) and 123 people have been arrested including 100 preventive arrests," the CEO said.

When asked about complaints by a number of candidates in connection with disallowing them to enter polling booths by the Central forces, the CEO said the forces have been issued clear-cut instructions that candidates should not be stopped from entering polling booths. TMC candidate from Kamarhati Madan Mitra and the BJP nominee from Baranagar Parno Mitra were allegedly initially prevented from entering booths.

The 45 Assembly seats that witnessed voting are expected to have a close contest with TMC leading in 23 against BJP's 22 in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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