Sporadic violence marks fifth phase of Bengal polls

78.36 per cent voter turnout recorded till 5 pm

Sporadic violence marks fifth phase of Bengal polls

Women queue up to vote. Photo credit: Twitter/CEOWestBengal

Salt Lake/Burdwan/Siliguri, April 17

West Bengal recorded 78.36 per cent voter turnout recorded till 5 pm in the fifth phase of assembly elections that saw scattered incidents of violence, officials said.

Polling was being held on 45 seats in North 24 Parganas, Purba Bardhaman and Nadia in south Bengal, and Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts in the north.

The security personnel were maintaining a tight vigil and they had addressed a few incidents that were reported, an official at the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said.

In the Shantinagar area of Bidhanagar, a clash broke out between TMC and BJP supporters with both sides accusing each other of preventing the voters from going to the polling booths.

Bricks and stones were hurled, injuring eight people, officials said.

A huge contingent of the central force was rushed to the spot, they said.

TMC MLA Sujit Bose and BJP candidate Sabyasachi Dutta visited the spot to take stock of the situation.

In Siliguri, a scuffle broke out between TMC and CPI (M) supporters outside a polling booth.

In Santipur in Nadia district, the TMC alleged that personnel of the central forces were asking voters to go back, a charge rubbished by the authorities.

The TMC alleged that a polling booth in Bardhaman Uttar constituency was captured by the BJP. The allegation was denied by the opposition party, while poll officials said no such incident had happened.

In Bijpur in North 24 Parganas, TMC and BJP supporters clashed after the opposition party alleged that voters were being prevented from going to the booths.

The BJP also alleged that some of its booth agents in Minakha constituency of the same district were "kidnapped" by the TMC.

The TMC said the BJP did not have enough strength to depute agents in all the booths and that is why it was levelling such "baseless" allegations.

A total of 1,13,47,344 people are eligible to vote. Of them, 57,35,766 are men, 56,11,354 are women and 224 are third gender.

Barring these few incidents, the overall situation was peaceful, a poll panel official said.

At many places, voters were seen without masks amid the resurgent coronavirus, raising concerns. The security forces ensured social distancing at the booths, while election officials provided masks, hand sanitisers and polythene gloves to the voters.

The polling started at 7 am and will continue till 6.30 pm in 15,789 stations across the six districts.

The Election Commission has deployed 853 companies of central forces in this phase. — PTI

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