Amid sporadic violence, 77.68% polling reported in third phase
Kolkata: Barring a few stray incidents, the third phase of elections in 31 Assembly constituencies spread across three districts — South 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly passed off peacefully.
According to the Election Commission, 77.68 per cent of overall polling was recorded till 5 pm with 79.36 per cent in eight Assembly constituencies (ACs) in Hooghly, 76.68 per cent in 16 ACs in South 24-Parganas and 77.93 per cent in 7 ACs in Howrah.
The voting percentage is expected to rise further with long queues at most polling booths and voting continuing till 6.30 pm. "Polling was more or less peaceful apart from some sporadic incidents of violence. There have been some incidents where candidates have been allegedly assaulted. We have sought reports and action will be taken against the offenders," state Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab said.
In another incident, TMC candidate from Hooghly's Arambagh Sujata Mondal Khan was allegedly assaulted by BJP workers. In Tarakeshwar seat, BJP candidate Swapan Dasgupta was also abused by alleged members of the TMC when he tried to go around polling stations, party sources said.
There were reports of attack on BJP candidate from Uluberia (Dakshin) Assembly seat as well.
In Khanakul, Hooghly TMC candidate Najmul Karim was allegedly beaten up by BJP activists and slogans were raised against him. Later, Central forces rescued him from the area.
Papiya Adhikary was also allegedly assaulted when she went to Uluberia hospital to see an injured party candidate. The police have made several arrests in connection to these incidents.
TMC candidate from Ulubeira South Nirmal Maji claimed that he was "heckled" by BJP supporters and his vehicle was vandalised when he tried visiting a booth in his constituency. He was made to wear a helmet and escorted out of the area by the police.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, the Election Commission suspended a sector officer and three voting officials related to the incident after three EVMs and four VVPAT machines were found at TMC leader Goutam Ghosh's residence at Tulsiberia under Uluberia North constituency. "The seals of all the machines were found intact but we have ensured that none of these are used in the elections," Aftab added.
Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee complained of "blatant misuse" of the Central forces in the third phase of polling. Banerjee wrote in her official Twitter handle: "The blatant misuse of Central forces continues unabated. Despite us repeatedly raising this issue, @ECISVEEP continues to be a mute spectator while men in uniform are being misused at several places to openly intimidate TMC voters & influence many to vote in favour of one party."
TMC candidate from Canning (East) seat in South 24-Parganas Saokat Molla sat on a dharna alleging inaction on the part of the Central forces in recovery of bombs allegedly hurled by supporters of Indian Secular Front (ISF). TMC candidate from the Dhaniakhali seat in Hooghly Asima Patra accused the Central forces of high-handedness and alleged that voters were being stopped by BJP "goons" from going to polling stations.
TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien wrote a letter to the state CEO alleging gruesome sexual assault on a minor girl by a Central force jawan at Tarakeshwar, Hooghly. ADG (Law & Order) Jagmohan said an FIR has been lodged in connection with the incident and an investigation is on.
Reiterating that the Commission will take strong action in connection with alleged allegations of attack on candidates, Jagmohan added that the video clips are being examined to identify more people involved in such acts of disrupting peaceful polling.