Kolkata: At least 12 people lost their lives during the panchayat polls held in the state on Saturday. This includes seven from ruling Trinamool Congress, two each from CPI (M) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one from the Congress.
As soon as the polling started in the morning, incidents of violence were reported in every corner of the state. The places which saw maximum violence were in Murshidabad, Cooch Behar, South 24 parganas and Nadia. However, the ruling TMC rejected the claims of large-scale violence throughout the state.
At several places including Dinhata, Purulia, Diamond Harbour, Rajarhat ballot boxes were vandalised and in some places they were either thrown in ponds or burnt.
In Baduriyain North 24 parganas, members of CPI (M) allegedly gave false votes; Domkal also reported similar incidents. Reports of false votes were also reported at Jamalpur Malda, East Burdwan and Basirhat.
"Don't want to lose our lives just for doing our duty"
In several places the presiding officers, voters were seen in tears as they were afraid for their lives.
"Some TMC miscreants heckled us and gave false votes. We are worried because we don't want to lose our lives just for doing our duty," said a presiding officer in Dokal while leaving the poll booth.
At Islampur, the voting process was over within one hour of its commencement and by 8 am the ballot boxes were sealed. At a booth in Bolpur, people were seen burning the ballot papers and police had to intervene to recover the papers. Governor CV Ananda Bose who visited a few places at North 24 parganas said that on his way people wanted to inform him of the 'tales of violence'. "It is a sacred day for democracy and people should exercise their franchise, violence should be stopped," said Bose.
Questions on the role of the central forces
TMC minister Sashi Panja raised questions on the role of the central forces. "Out of over 61,000 booths, violence took place at 60 booths. Rest were peaceful. Some incidents of violence are being reported from Friday night as BJP, CPI (M) and Congress have colluded," said Panja.
State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar alleged that the State Election Commission (SEC) was reluctant to deploy central forces in the state.
"On one side the SEC is reluctant to deploy central forces and on the other hand civic volunteers are deployed for election duty. This clearly shows that the state government and SEC had hoodwinked courts," mentioned Majumdar.
Meanwhile, BSF IG had reportedly written a letter to SEC alleging 'irregularity' in deployment of central forces. Talking to the media, State Election Commissioner Rajiva Sinha said, "State administration looks after law and order."
Poll analyst Biswanath Chakraborty said, "What happened today is genocide. Whatever scene of violence Mamata Banerjee had seen as an opposition leader, she is showing the same picture now."