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12 people killed during Bengal Panchayat Polls, over 72 per cent voting

Kolkata: At least, a dozen people have been killed and several injured as violence and clashes between the supporters of opposing political parties marked the Bengal panchayat polls on Monday. The polling for electing 38,616 representatives across three tiers of state (rural) bodies started at 7 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m.

Bengal Director general of police, Surajit Kar Purakayaastha confirmed the death of 12 people in poll violence. He added that out of these 12 people, the identity of six people is yet to be ascertained.

As per State Election Commission (SEC), there are 622 Zilla Parishads, 6,158 Panchayat Samitis and 31,836 Gram Panchayats across Bengal, which are undergoing polls. This is because 16,814 Gram Panchayat seats, 3,059 Panchayat Samiti seats and 203 Zilla Parishad was uncontested. The counting of votes will be held on May 17.

According to the SEC, 72.5 per cent votes were cast during the high voltage polls across Bengal.

The Panchayat poll is the last major election in the state before the next year’s Lok Sabha polls. Around 46,000 personnel of West Bengal Police have been deployed, besides a total of 12,000 Kolkata police, around 1500 security personnel from the states have been deployed to take stock of the situation.

Reports of violence and booth capturing have been received from several areas of South 24 parganas, Cooch Behar, Midnapore West and several other parts of the state. A Trinamool Congress (TMC) worker Arif Gazi was shot dead in Kultali area of South 24 Parganas.

While in the morning, there were reports of a BJP supporter injured after being allegedly stabbed by TMC workers. In other incident, at least 20 people have been injured after a crude bomb exploded in Amdanga’s Sadhanpur in North 24 Parganas.

A ballot box was burnt outside a polling booth in Rajganj block in Jalpaiguri district. According to locals miscreants entered Tamantola school polling booth, brought outside the ballot box and set it on fire. Voting was stopped in the booth after the incident. Election officer Shilpa Gauri Saria, on receiving the complaint, asked officials to close the polling booth.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter Sujit Kumar Das was slapped by minister in charge of North Bengal Development department Rabindra Nath Ghosh at one of the polling station in the presence of police. BJP has filed a complaint against Ghosh with SEC. On the other hand, a TMC worker, Anarul Mita, suffered bullet injuries in an attack in Cooch Behar’s Dinhata on late Sunday night, after which he was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition. The victim has alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers are behind the attack

In North 24 Parganas, a Communist Party of India (Marxist) party worker and his wife, who were charred to death after their house was torched last night, alleged that TMC workers were behind the attack. Incidents of violence were also reported from Bhangar, where a media vehicle was torched and a camera broken, after which media was prohibited from entering the area. Bhangar locals blocked the roads, alleging that TMC workers were capturing the polling booth.

State minister for food and supplies, Jyotipriyo Mallick, has accused that the BJP workers are bringing in “outsiders” to disturb the peace in the state. He claimed that the outsiders are coming from the Bangladesh. Jashore, SaathKhira – such place has turned out to be one of the most suitable routes for infiltration. Overnight clashes were reported in West Midnapore, Malda and South and North 24-Parganas. Three persons were killed two in West Midnapore and one in Malda. While police said one West Midnapore death happened due to personal enmity, BJP claimed the victim was their supporter and lodged an FIR naming Trinamool supporters.

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