Bhatpara by-polls marred by violence, narrow escape for Madan Mitra
Kolkata: Amid violent clashes between workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress, with hurling of bombs and ransacking of two police vehicles, the Bhatpara Assembly constituency turned into a battleground during the by-polls on Sunday.
Three persons have been injured in the violence with 18 persons being arrested so far.
The by-polls were necessitated after Arjun Singh, who defected to the BJP from Trinamool Congress, resigned as Bhatpara's MLA to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
Madan Mitra, the Trinamool candidate in Bhatpara constituency, alleged that Arjun Singh had resorted to violence as he knows that BJP will lose the by-election. The Election Commission has already sought a report on the violence.
According to sources, Mitra on Sunday visited the polling booths one after another and around 12 pm while he was present at Kankinara High School, he saw that Central Force personnel were not checking the identity of the persons entering the polling booths. When he reportedly asked the jawans why was this happening, a heated exchange broke out.
Mitra alleged that BJP had arranged outsiders to cast false votes in favour of the candidates. Significantly in the Bhatpara by-election, BJP leader Arjun Singh's son Pawan is contesting against Mitra.
"Several persons could be seen entering polling premises wearing half pants. No police personnel or Central Force jawans were seen doing their duties. When I asked them about why they were not checking the identities of the voters, I was confronted," said Mitra.
Sources informed that after visiting Kankinara High School, when Mitra was on his way to another booth at Kantapukur area, several miscreants allegedly backed by the BJP hurled bombs targeting his car. But no harm was done as he immediately turned his car and left the area. Later, a Trinamool party office was allegedly set on fire by the BJP workers.
As the situation worsened, the Central Force jawans lathi-charged to disperse the mob. There were attempts to reportedly snatch firearm from a jawan as well. Later, Commissioner of Police (CP), Barrackpore, Sunil Kumar Choudhary went to Kantapukur in Kankinara along with the Rapid Action Force (RAF).
"We have asked for a factual report from the district administration," Additional Chief Electoral Officer Sanjay Basu said.
It is alleged that BJP has used the non-Bengali people who used to work in the jute mills that have been shut down for the past few years. Those jobless people have joined the BJP and are working as musclemen for the saffron party.
In the afternoon at around 4 pm, Arjun went to the spot and alleged that Mitra was trying to create problems in the area.
Condemning the violence in Kankinara, Trinamool spokesperson Derek O'Brien issued a media statement where he also alleged that the Central Forces are doing as they have been instructed by the BJP. In the statement he said: "Central forces, taking orders from BJP, mercilessly beating up citizens and Trinamool workers. Bombs hurled, open fire on citizens. BJP is resorting to high level of violence in the Bhatpara Assembly by-poll. This is dangerous for democracy. Goons of Arjun Singh have hurled bombs and even attacked the Trinamool candidate Madan Mitra."