The second phase of polling in West Bengal was marked by clashes, 80% voting

The Election Commission (EC) received 1,605 complaints. At least 28 people were arrested and several others detained as a preventive measure.

With 30 Assembly constituencies in four districts recording an 80.43 per cent voter turnout till 5 pm on Thursday, the second phase of polling was marred by incidents of violence and clashes, leading to the death of a TMC worker and injuries to several others, mostly in Purba and Paschim Medinipur. A BJP worker was found hanging at his home in Nandigram. The TMC and BJP blamed each other for violence while the CPI(M) alleged that its supporters were restrained from casting their vote.

The Election Commission (EC) received 1,605 complaints. At least 28 people were arrested and several others detained as a preventive measure.

Hours before the voting began, a 37-year-old TMC worker, Uttam Dolui, was stabbed to death in Keshpur in Paschim Medinipur. He was attacked with sharp weapons by some miscreants near a club at Hariharpur, police said. Dolui died on his way to hospital, said sources.

The TMC accused the BJP of killing Dolui “to create fear among voters” — a charge denied by the opposition party. Eight people have been arrested.

The EC said that a report had been sought from district authorities over the incident. Forces had been deployed in the locality to check any further flare-up, police said.

“In some of the major incidents that took place today, 37-year-old Uttam Daloi in Keshpur received sharp injuries. He was being taken to Medinipur Medical College via Keshpur where he succumbed to his injuries. A case has been registered in Keshpur police station under IPC sections 302 (murder) , 143 (unlawful assembly), 149 (unlawful assembly) and 120B (criminal conspiracy). Eight people have been arrested in the case,” said Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab, adding that “polls were conducted peacefully”.

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In another incident, BJP worker Uday Shankar Dubey (52) was found hanging at his home by his wife, Sabita, at Nandigram’s Bhekutia area in Purba Medinipur at 4 pm. “Prima facie, it seems to be a suicide case. But more investigation is being done to ascertain the exact cause of the death,” said Aftab. As per Dubey’s family, he had dinner on Wednesday night. Dubey’s daughter Sumita Pradhan alleged that her father, a polling agent of Khodambari, was being threatened by TMC-backed miscreants for the last few days and asked him to steer clear of politics. Local TMC leaders claimed that Dubey had committed suicide because of depression.

Police said a case of unnatural death had been lodged. BJP’s Keshpur candidate Pritish Ranjan Konar and five others were injured in the attack around noon. Four vehicles were vandalised. According to a senior police official, six men and 14 women were arrested.

An unidentified group of people attacked Ghosh’s vehicle with bricks and bamboo sticks, and also vandalised cars of media personnel, a police officer said. Another BJP leader Tanmay Ghosh’s car was vandalised by some miscreants.

A local BJP leader from Debra was detained for allegedly coming within 100 metres of a polling booth, said police Mohan Singh, Dakshin Mandal Sabhapati of the BJP, however, claimed that he was called there by saffron party candidate Bharati Ghosh.

Ghosh, a former IPS officer, alleged that TMC workers beat up Singh and chased him away.TMC candidate and actor Soham Chakraborty was attacked and his car vandalised at Chandipur in Purba Medinipur.A man was detained for trying to cast vote with a fake voter ID card and allegeldy trying to influence voters at Rajaramchak High School in Nandigram.
Senior CPI(M) leader Rabin Deb met CEO Aftab and accused the TMC and BJP of creating ruckus.

“We saw the kind of gathering that happened in Nandigram and Keshpur where Section 144 was imposed. Voters were unable to vote in Nandigram. They are still being stopped by the TMC and BJP. They have successfully conducted polls in the way they had planned. Our people were attracked in Chandrakona and Debra. We have demanded EC’s intervention. Action must be taken against those who have failed to conduct free and fair polls and those who didn’t play their role properly. As far as repolling is considered , we would like the commission to consider our complaint,” said Deb.

Meanwhile, the high-profile Nandigram Assembly seat, where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is fighting against her former protege and BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari, recorded an 80.79 per cent voter turnout. District-wise, Bankura’s voting percentage stood at 82.92, Paschim Medinipur’s at 78.02, Purba Medinipur’s at 81.23 and South 24 Paraganas’s at 79.65.
Nearly 800 companies of central forces were deployed, and total 10,620 booths set up. Twenty-three general observers, nine expenditure observers and six police observers were monitoring the 30 constituencies. Total 171 candidates, including 19 women, are in the fray.

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