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Alipurduar, Cooch Behar witness above 80% voter turnout

Alipurduar, Cooch Behar witness  above 80% voter turnout

Kolkata: With the exception of some stray incidents of clashes, the first phase of elections in Bengal passed peacefully at Alipurduar and Cooch Behar on Thursday. The voting percentage in both the Lok Sabha seats was above 80 percent.

"The election has been fair and peaceful throughout the state. There were a few stray incidents but there have been no injuries to anybody. Senior officers and observers have rushed to the spot whenever we received complaints," said Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ariz Aftab.

Taking the cue from the CEO, state ADG (Law and Order) Siddh Nath Gupta, who was also present at the press conference, said: "Necessary action has been taken wherever we have received any sort of complaint." He maintained that the security arrangements were adequate.

Earlier in the day, Special Police Observer Vivek Dubey had also stated that peaceful elections were held in both the constituencies. He also acknowledged the role of state police in ensuring maintenance of the law and order situation in both the constituencies.

Alipurduar saw a voter turnout of 81.58 percent, with Cooch Behar seeing a 80.11 percent turnout till 6 pm. People standing in queues to cast their votes expressed satisfaction with the security arrangements at the polling booths.

Meanwhile, the police arrested seven people from Cooch Behar and one from Alipurduar for trying to create disturbance during the voting process. An official in the state CEO's office said that three FIRs were filed for alleged vandalising of the vehicle of the All India Forward Bloc candidate at Mathabhanga in Cooch Behar, damaging an EVM at Dinhata and alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct in Cooch Behar.

"Two show-causes have been issued to presiding officers in connection with damage to an EVM in a booth and for allegedly allowing an outsider into a booth at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar," the official said.

Trinamool Congress Cooch Behar district president Rabindra Nath Ghosh has alleged interference on the part of Central Forces in the election. "BSF jawans have entered a booth which they are not entitled to do as per the commission's rule. They are required to guard the polling premises and remain outside the booth. This is a clear indication that they have some sort of ulterior motive. I have informed the District Magistrate. I have also been informed that they have entered some bordering booths as well. Voting could have been better if state police were deployed," Ghosh said.

It has been learnt that the Election Commission has sought a report from the IG, BSF regarding the complaint.

Ghosh also spoke with Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee and informed her about some EVMs going defunct at Dinhata, apart from his complaint against BSF. Ghosh also alleged conspiracy behind a number of EVMs going defunct at booths in Cooch Behar.

Sources in the Commission said that polling had to be called off at Sitalkuchi due to some trouble and the matter would be taken up during the scrutiny on Friday.

At Mathabhanga, the vehicle of Forward Bloc candidate Govinda Roy was vandalised and a case has been started against five accused persons regarding the incident. The EVM and VVPAT were damaged and had to be replaced at a booth in Dinhata.

Meanwhile, BJP candidate from Cooch Behar Nisith Pramanik sat on a dharna in front of the DM's office on Thursday, demanding repoll in all 837 booths where there was no deployment of Central Forces, whereas a Left Front delegation led by senior CPI(M) leader Rabin Deb met the CEO and demanded a repoll in 170 polling booths.

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