Millennium Post

Violence mars Bengal rural polls

Three people were killed as violence marred the second round of West Bengal panchayat polls on Monday.

The deaths were reported from Burdwan district where polling was held along with Hooghly and East Midnapore, police said. The turnout was around 75 percent.

Mohammad Hasmat, husband of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) candidate Manowara Bibi for Madhudanga gram panchayat seat in Jamuria area, died when some assailants threw bombs at him while he was on his way to a polling booth to cast his vote.

Trinamool Congress activist Rajkumar Khora was kidnapped and lynched by a mob, allegedly comprising those close to the CPI-M. Khora’s body was later discovered from a field.

In Nawpara of Mangalkote, a Trinamool activist was killed during a clash between supporters of his party and those of an independent candidate. While the opposition Left Front and the Congress blamed the Trinamool for the violence, agriculture minister Moloy Ghatak, who hails from Burdwan, pointed out that two of those killed were supporters of the ruling party.

‘Hasmat was trying to jam the booth with his accomplices. This enraged the villagers and they beat him up. On the other hand, Khora was lynched by the CPI-M activists. Two of our men had to be hospitalised with bullet injuries elsewhere in the district. The CPI-M is involved in both the attacks,’ Ghatak claimed.

Four other people were injured in a CPI-M-Trinamool clash at Bhatar in the district. ‘Three people died in the second phase. During nomination, 12 were killed, something that never happened during the last seven panchayat polls. Several thousands have been injured and affected in this panchayat poll,’ said Congress leader Manas Bhuniya.

An average 30 per cent polling was recorded till noon in the three districts — East Midnapore, in which Nandigram falls and Singur in Hooghly, besides Burdwan, State Election Commission sources said.

Altogether 28,342 candidates are in fray for 12,869 panchayat seats for the three-tier rural bodies in the three districts. As many as 50,000 security personnel, including 35,000 state security forces and 15,000 central troopers, are on duty for the polls.

A total of 95,25,320 voters were eligible to elect their representatives in the three districts covering 10,637 gram panchayats, 2,047 panchayat samities and 185 zilla parishad seats.  All eyes were on Singur in Hooghly and East Midnapore’s Nandigram -- which gained national and international spotlight during the last lap of the Left Front’s rule for the anti-farmland acquisition protests that propelled Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress to power.

The first phase was held 11 July. Polling for the next rounds will be on 19, 22 and 25 July. Counting of votes will take place 29 July.
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