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Violence hits Panchayat polls in West Bengal, 12 die
Bengal Panchayat
Image Credit: Screenshot grab from video

Violence hits Panchayat polls in West Bengal, 12 die

| @indiablooms | 08 Jul 2023, 04:33 pm

Kolkata: Violence rocked West Bengal during the single phase three-tier Panchayat polling as 12 people, who were owing allegiance to both the ruling Trinamool Congress and Opposition, lost their lives in different parts of the state on Saturday.

While seven Trinamool Congress activists, including a candidate, were killed, two each belonging to the BJP and CPI(M) and one Congress fell prey to the violent incidents.

The districts of Murshidabad, Malda and Cooch Behar bore the brunt of the violence, besides North and South 24 Parganas.

Besides violent clashes that injured scores of people, ballot boxes were destroyed in at least two polling booths.

Meanwhile, till 11 AM, only 22.6 per cent of votes were cast, the lowest of all time in the history of rural Bengal.

Governor C V Ananda Bose expressed grave concern at the prevailing law and order situation during the Panchayat polling in the state.

Bose, who took a round of several areas where polling is in process, expressed dissatisfaction at the law and order situation in the state.

Bose said, "Who will protect the protectors of democracy. The Election Commission is seen nowhere, yet the Commissioner is tight lipped."

The Governor said he was told that killings and violence were being reported from different parts of the state.

"Who is going to protect the ordinary people . The Election Commission is silent. I have asked him to reply me who is there to protect the people and the democracy, " Bose asserted.

The Trinamool Congress alleged it was a failure on the part of central forces tasked with security.

TMC spokesman Kunal Ghosh said the majority of the victims were their supporters.

He described the Governor as a "BJP agent" and alleged that Bose was campaigning even today on the streets.

Ghosh said, " Bose must be ready with bags and baggage after July 11, the day poll results will be announced."

In a series of tweets, AITC alleged, " Those who advocated for the principles of democracy are the ones responsible for its demise. Incumbent Pradhan of Bidyanandpur Gram Panchayat BRUTALLY ATTACKED by @INCWestBengal workers in Uttar Dinajpur. The Central Forces are NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. "

" In Baroj Gram Panchayat, Bhagabanpur-II Block, BJP MLA Rabindranath Maity was seen capturing the booths with the help of the CRPF. Our supporters are being TORTURED & ASSAULTED by the BJP Goons. Meanwhile, THE CRPF PLAYS THE ROLE OF A MUTE SPECTATOR, " the party tweeted.

" Is this why @BJP4Bengal DEMANDED the deployment of Central Forces? To assist them in INFLICTING VIOLENCE upon the people of Bengal? " it asked.

" @BJP4India, @CPIM_WESTBENGAL and @INCWestBengal must be enjoying their front row seats in this theatre of death and mass destruction. The tragic deaths of two of our party workers in Basanti and Katwa highlight the incompetence of Central Forces who have been nothing but mute spectators. Is this how you celebrate democracy? " the party further asked.

" @BJP4Bengal stoops to new lows in their assault on democracy. They shamelessly opened fire outside a polling booth in Dinhata, Cooch Behar, preventing people from exercising their fundamental right to vote. Such desperate tactics only expose their attempt to obstruct free and fair elections, " it stated.

West Bengal Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari on Saturday alleged that the State Panchayat election is a "Carnival of DEMO'N'CRACY".

" West Bengal Panchayat Elections - Carnival of DEMO'N'CRACY. Mamata Banerjee's henchman & contract killer; State Election Commissioner Rajiv Sinha is executing her plans across the State, " tweeted Adhikari.

Adhikari also called for "Kalighat Chalo" and demanded imposition of Article 356 or 355 to safeguard democracy as the state was witness to an orgy of violence since the declaration of the Panchayat poll.

BJP leader Amit Malviya tweeted, "Bodies are dropping like pins in Bengal. The wave of political violence, unleashed in the run up to Panchayat polls, continues unabated. Mamata Banerjee, as Home Minister of WB, is squarely responsible for this. WB Govt, in collusion with SEC, have denied people right to vote."

(With UNI inputs)

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