Three persons, including husband of a Communist Party of India-Marxist candidate, were killed on Monday and several others injured in violence during the second phase of panchayat elections in West Bengal where 75 per cent polling was recorded. The three districts to go to the rural polls were Burdwan, Hoogly and East Midnapore.
"Three people have been killed in the violence in Burdwan district, " State Election Commission secretary Tapas Ray told PTI.
The police said Sheikh Hasmat, the husband of a CPI-M candidate Monowara Bibi, was killed in a bomb attack at Madhudanga gram Panchayat in Burdwan's Jamuria area. Another person, Rajkumar Kora, who was allegedly among to those who threw the bomb, was lynched by the mob. Kata Mullick was killed in another crude bomb attack near the Hijjona panchayat office in Mangalkote area, the police said.
At least 12 people were injured in violence in sporadic violence in several parts of the Burdwan and East Midnapore districts.
CPI-M candidate, Siddhartha Banerjee, for the Panuria gram panchayat in Burdwan was beaten up allegedly by ruling Trinamool Congress supporters, while a CPI-M woman candidate, Suptava Karpah, was arrested at Rayan in the same district on the charge of influencing voters, the police said.
Polling was peaceful in Hoogly district, in which Singur falls, barring an incident when a local Trinamool Congress leader Bocha was seen allegedly interfering inside a booth when voting was on.
SEC sources said it was contemplating re-polling in some booths of Burdwan and Hoogly districts but did not elaborate. The sources said an average 75 per cent polling was recorded till 5 pm in the three districts. The percentage will increase as queues of voters were still waiting outside the booths to exercise their franchise.
The first phase of panchayat elections in West Bengal on July 11 covering three Naxal-hit Junglemahal districts had passed off by and large peacefully with a voter turnout of 70 per cent amidst tight security and surveillance by helicopters.
A report from East Midnapore district quoting police said a bomb was hurled at booth number 29/1 at Nandigram after a clash between ruling Trinamool Congress and Congress workers. A Congress worker was injured in the head in the clash.
At booth numbers 145 and 146 in Mahisadal, there was a scuffle between TMC and CPI-M supporters and there were reports of booth jamming at booth numbers 45, 46, 47, 48 at Moyna in which the police intervened.
At Patashpur, the house of a CPI-M candidate's agent was ransacked on Sunday night.
The ruling Trinamool Congress claimed that the second phase of panchayat polls was peaceful. "The people of Bengal have excercised their democratic rights peacefully and fairly," Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy told PTI.
Asked about the killing of three persons in poll violence during the day, he said the person who died in Mangalkote was a TMC supporter. "But according to SEC, the other two persons who have died have no relation with the panchayat polls," he said.
Opposition Congress and Left Front on the other hand lashed out at TMC accusing it of aiding the perpetrators of poll violence and letting loose a reign of terror. "This is the bloodiest election I am witnessing. The Trinamool Congress and the state administration have let loose a reign of terror by beating and killing people," West Bengal PCC president Pradip Bhattacharjee told PTI.
The CPI-M alleged that several booths were captured in the three districts by TMC 'goons'. "The way the verdict of the high court has been dishonoured and the SEC bypassed by the state government, this (poll violence) was to happen. Several of our party workers are injured. In all the three districts, TMC captured the booths," CPI-M state secretariat member Rabin Deb said.