Violence overshadows Bengal Phase-IV

Kolkata: A Union Minister was attacked, Central forces fired in the air after Trinamool Congress backed villagers vandalised a booth, while there were reports of clashes, intimidation and booth capturing as violence overshadowed all other developments in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal on Monday.

Union Minister and BJP candidate from Asansol, Babul Supriyo’s car was vandalised allegedly by stone pelting Trinamool Congress supporters, but the Minister escaped unharmed with only the rear glass of the vehicle being damaged.

Trouble erupted at Asansol’s Barabani after Supriyo went inside a polling booth to ensure his party agents were allowed inside. “They are trying to stop me. But they won’t be able to stop me like this. I will move to ensure that BJP agents are allowed,” Supriyo said before leaving the area.

These men are attacking my car and saying I am resorting to hooliganism. It is a ploy to confine me at a place but I will move,” he said. While Trinamool workers alleged that Supriyo and his men had manhandled them, Election Commission (EC) sources said a detailed report has been sought on the matter.

The polls were stalled in a booth at Oduma under the Dubrajpur assembly segment of Birbhum constituency where Central forces fired in the air after irate villagers allegedly owing allegiance to the Trinamool Congress vandalised the booth. The villagers clashed with the security forces following a dispute over the depositing of mobile phones, officials said. The CRPF personnel fired in the air to control the situation.

However, Trinamool’s Birbhum constituency candidate Satabdi Roy alleged that two persons – a woman and a youth – were injured in the firing by the Central paramiliatary troopers. Echoing Roy, an angry West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said law and order was a state subject and Central forces have no right to “fire or resort to baton charge”.

Reports have poured in about electoral irregularities in Monday’s polling covering eight constituencies spread across the districts of Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan East and Burdwan West and Nadia. In the Baharampur Lok Sabha constituency, sitting MP and senior Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury accused the Trinamool workers of preventing voters from coming to the polling stations in certain areas.

Chowdhury and Congress leaders accompanying him chased and caught a person purportedly indulging in proxy voting in the Krishnanath College booth, but a crowd of Trinamool workers managed to free him. Reports of booth capturing and intimidating voters were reported from at least three booths in Birbhum district’s Rampurhat and at Ketugram in East Burdwan.

Opposition parties alleged that Trinamool supporters attacked women voters on their way to the polling booths. Central forces rushed to the spot and dispersed the crowd. Clashes between supporters of different political parties were reported from Birbhum’s Nalhai and Nanur – areas notorious for political violence.

Villagers at Law Bagan in Birbhum’s Suri were allegedly locked up in a house by Trinamool activists to prevent them from voting, locals said, adding that their electoral photo identity cards were also snatched. EC officials later entered the village and security personnel took the voters to the polling stations.

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