Panchayat polls in WB: Six policemen wounded in TMC, BJP clashes

KOLKATA/ NEW DELHI: Six policemen were injured on Monday when the BJP and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers clashed at Usti in South 24 Parganas district over filing of nominations for next month''s panchayat elections in West Bengal, the police said.

Kolkata/New Delhi, April 9

Six policemen were injured on Monday when the BJP and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers clashed at Usti in South 24 Parganas district over filing of nominations for next month's panchayat elections in West Bengal, the police said.

Monday was the last day for filing of nominations for the panchayat polls to be held on May 1, 3 and 5.

The Supreme Court refused to extend the last date for the filing of nominations for the rural polls on earlier on Monday saying it could not interfere with the election process.

The top court, however, granted liberty to all candidates to approach the West Bengal State Election Commission for appropriate relief.

The BJP had on March 6 told the apex court "democracy was being murdered" in West Bengal as the ruling TMC was engaged in large scale violence and not allowing its candidates to file nominations for the panchayat polls.

The TMC leadership welcomed the apex court's ruling.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, however, said: "If the TMC tries to unleash violence on the days of the polls, it will be paid back in the same coin. If they attack us with bombs and pistols, we won't greet them with a plate of sweets".           

The BJP, the CPI (M) and the Congress alleged that their candidates were attacked by TMC activists also at Baruipur, Diamond Harbour and Bhangar—all in South 24 Parganas district.

In Baruipur, a woman candidate was beaten up while trying to file nomination for the rural polls.

ADGP (law and order) Anuj Sharma told reporters in Kolkata that five people were arrested for the assault on the woman, and seven others were detained in connection with the incident at Usti.

District police sources said six police personnel were injured while trying to stop the clash between workers of the TMC and the BJP, and one policeman suffered bullet injury in his left hand.

The BJP alleged that their party workers were attacked by "armed goons" of the Trinamool when they were going to file nominations.

In Birbhum district Zilla Parishad, the TMC won 41 of the 42 seats uncontested, an official of the District Panchayat and Rural Development said.

There would be election only in Rajnagar seat where the BJP has filed nomination, he said.

Ghosh alleged that the TMC has managed to make Birbhum opposition-less with the help of the musclemen and the police.

"We have no faith on the state police. Even our women candidates were beaten up and hundreds of our party workers were arrested," he said.

Denying the BJP's charges, TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said the opposition parties did not have the organisation to fight the rural poll.

"Wherever they don't have people to contest the election, they are blaming the TMC for the violence," he said.

Chatterjee, also a state minister, accused the opposition parties of trying to destabilise the state and claimed the BJP was trying to divide the people on communal line.

“By moving the courts, the opposition parties were trying to put pressure on the State Election Commission (SEC) that is conducting the panchayat polls,” Chatterjee, who met the state election commissioner during the day, said, adding that the commission should not bow down to any pressure.

The ADGP (law and order) said armed police would be deployed in all the polling booths during the three-tier panchayat election next month.

Asserting that the police were playing a "proactive role" in ensuring free and fair polls, he said 2,000 preventive arrests have been made since yesterday and 256 were arrested in specific cases.

Ten arms and two bombs were recovered from separate places in the state, he said, adding that checking at various points were being strengthened. PTI



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