KOLKATA: Within eight hours of West Bengal Panchayat polls, six persons died and over 20 were injured after violence erupted across the state. Among those dead included a CPM supporter dead from Amdanga, North 24 Parganas, two TMC supporters dead -- one from Kultoli, South 24 Parganas and another from Nadia, a BJP supporter dead from Beldanga, Murshidabad, a supporter of an independent candidate dead in Murshidabad and One person dead from Shantipur whose political identity is not yet known.
Opposition parties later pointed fingers at ruling Trinamool as several reports of violence emerged from across West Bengal during the ongoing Panchayat polls.
"Not surprised by all the incidents that are happening since morning. Bengal government is a shameless government. You cannot expect them to follow any kind of constitutional behaviour,” said BJP minister Babul Supriyo.
“I demand President's Rule in WB," he added.
Reiterating similar views, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) will be seen as complicit in the ruling Trinamool Congress' "project of destroying democracy" if it does not act to restore faith in the electoral process.
“The Election Commission of West Bengal must act to restore faith in the process. Else it will be seen as complicit in TMC's project of destroying democracy. Allowing TMC to get away with throttling democracy has implications well beyond West Bengal," Yechury said on Twitter.
The Election Commission of West Bengal must act to restore faith in the process. Else it will be seen as complicit in TMC's project of destroying democracy. Allowing TMC to get away with throttling democracy has implications well beyond West Bengal. pic.twitter.com/F6vHJbiqun
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) May 14, 2018
According to the State Election Commission (SEC), 12.2 per cent votes were cast in the initial two hours of polling till 9 am.
In less than three hours after polling began, reports of violence and clashes emerged from several districts across state.
Videos of party workers, armed with sticks, were seen stopping voters from entering booth at several booths. Over 20 people were injured in Cooch Behar alone. Reports of crude bomb being hurled around in several polling stations also emerged.
A media vehicle was torched in South 24 Parganas' Bhangar district, the camera and other equipment broken. Mediapersons were not allowed to enter the area, reported news agency ANI.
In another incident, two persons – a Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) worker Debaprasad Das and his wife Usha – a were charred to death in North 24 Parganas on Sunday night. Family members of the victims alleged that goons of the ruling TMC set fire to the house at Kachharabari locality of Kakdwip at around 1 am.
"An incident of fire was reported. A man and his wife were burnt to death. Forensic experts have been called," Sundarbans Coastal police district SP Tathagata Basu said.
In north Bengal`s Jalpaiguri, Minister in-charge of north Bengal development, Rabindra Nath Ghosh caught on camera slapping a BJP supporter. However, he denied slapping the opposition party worker saying he was merely trying to move people away using his hand. He said, "BJP agent was trying to run away with ballot box, officers caught hold of him but people said let him go. I just drove people away using my hand, that's all. TMC hasn't attacked anyone."
Incidents of violence took place in East Midnapore district`s Panskura and West Midnapore district`s Keshpur where gun totting miscreants gathered outside the polling stations and beat up the voters.
The polling began at 7 am and will continue till 5 pm. The counting will take place on May 17. The rural elections are being held in 621 zilla parishads and 6157 panchayat samitis, besides in 31,827 gram panchayats, spread across 20 districts.