States & UTs

    Sporadic incidents of violence mar final phase of voting in Bengal

    The Hawk
    June1/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Despite the Election Commission's claims of peaceful voting, numerous complaints of EVM malfunctions and booth entry obstructions were reported.

    EVMs in water in South 24 Parganas

    Kolkata: Sporadic incidents of violence marred the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha polls in the nine parliamentary constituencies in West Bengal, as TMC, ISF and BJP workers clashed in various parts of violence-prone Jadavpur and Diamond Harbour constituencies.

    Although the poll panel has claimed that voting has been peaceful so far, it said it has received 1,450 complaints until 11 am from different political parties alleging EVM malfunctions and agents being stopped from entering booths.

    Around 28.10 per cent of over 1.63 crore voters exercised their franchise in the first two hours of polling to the nine Lok Sabha seats, an Election Commission official said.

    Clashes broke out between supporters of the TMC, ISF and the BJP in different pockets of the state as the parties clashed over stopping polling agents from entering booths.

    A confrontation erupted in Bhangar within Jadavpur constituency between backers of Trinamool Congress and the Indian Secular Front (ISF), with allegations of crude bombs being hurled from both sides. Police intervention ensued, triggering protests as both factions accused each other.

    To quell the situation, security personnel resorted to a lathicharge to disperse the mob, recovering several crude bombs.

    Angry voters of Kultuli within Joynagar constituency dumped electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VV-PAT) machines into nearby waterbodies alleging electoral misconduct.

    "Today morning at 6.40 am Reserve EVMs & papers of Sector Officer near Benimadhavpur FP school, at 129-Kultali AC of 19-Jaynagar (SC) PC has been looted by local mob and 1 CU, 1 BU , 2VVPAT machines have been thrown inside a pond," the office of CEO West Bengal posted on X.

    "Sector Police was a little behind. FIR has been lodged by the Sector Officer and necessary action has been initiated. The poll process in all six booths under the Sector is running uninterrupted. Fresh EVM and papers have been provided to the Sector Officer," it further said.

    Senior BJP leader and Bengal co-incharge Amit Malviya posted on X, "Democracy is up in flames in West Bengal. Bombs have been hurled in Jadavpur's Bhangar, and irate villagers in Joynagar's Kultali have thrown an EVM and VVPAT machine in a pond because TMC goons won't let them vote."

    "But the worse affected is Diamond Harbour, where Mamata Banerjee's nephew and heir apparent is contesting from. BJP workers are being intimidated, not allowed to sit in the booths, their polling documents destroyed. WB Police is acting like Abhishek Banerjee's henchmen. Even the Muslims have not been spared because a large number of them are voting for CPI(M) candidate Pratikur Rahman. TMC's 'secularism' dies the moment Muslims start voting against it," he posted on X.

    Following this, Kolkata Police claimed that the incident happened in the morning before the poll process began.

    "This incident happened in the morning around 6 am much before the polling process in Bengal. Police and CAPF immediately intervened and have taken steps against miscreants. Legal action initiated. Polling in Bhangar started without any interruption and is going on peacefully," Kolkata Police posted on X.

    TMC supporters have accused the ISF of orchestrating the violence to intimidate voters. Prompt action from local law enforcement led to lathicharges and the arrest of suspects in Polerhat area of Bhangar.

    Another incident occurred where the vehicle of an ISF worker was vandalised in Baghajatin area. Accusations have been levelled against Trinamool Congress supporters for the alleged incident.

    Diamond Harbour, where TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee is seeking re-election, witnessed clashes between TMC and BJP supporters. BJP candidate Abhijit Das accused the ruling party of malpractices, which the TMC denied. As Das approached a polling booth, TMC activists staged protests and shouted "Go back" slogans. In response, Das got out of his car and shouted counter slogans.

    Similarly, CPI(M) candidate Patikur Rehman faced "go back" slogans from TMC workers when he attempted to visit a booth in the Canning area.

    In Diamond Harbour's Satganchia, BJP workers were allegedly beaten up by TMC over allegations of intimidation of voters. In Kultuli area, two BJP activists were injured during clashes with TMC workers.

    In Jadavpur area's Ganguly Bagan, CPI(M) workers were allegedly beaten by the TMC activists and their camp offices were ransacked. The TMC, however, denied the allegations and accused the Left party of intimidating the voters.

    In Baranagar assembly seat, where a by-poll is on, CPI (M) candidate Tanmay Bhattacharya was allegedly physically assaulted when he was standing outside a booth as TMC workers accused him of trying to influence the voters.

    The state Congress unit wrote to CEO Aariz Aftab requesting him to take stern action against alleged irregularities and rigging that are taking place in various pockets.

    Basirhat SP Hossain Mehedi Rahaman said three persons were injured during the clash between TMC and BJP supporters at Bayramari in Sandeshkhali, adding that one person was arrested in this connection.