Violence-hit Bhangar celebrated with a victory procession on Thursday after five of nine panchayat candidates fielded by the Jomi Jibika Poribesh O Bastutantra Rakhsa Committee (JJPOBRC) from block II were pronounced winners.
While the JJPOBRC had planned to field 19 candidates, they were unable to do so after their candidates were beaten up, allegedly by TMC cadres, when they went to file their nominations at the BDO office. Another attempt to file nominations at the South 24 Parganas SDO office in Alipore resulted in the same outcome. The nominations of nine candidates were finally accepted after the Calcutta High Court intervened.
The five gram sabha winners — Fariuddin Mollah of Padmapukur, Azizul Mollah of Khamaraith, Jahanara Bibi of Bakultala Mallikpara, Saleyara Bibi of Khamaraith and Ishrafil Mollah of Machibhanga — played key roles in last year’s agitation against the construction of a state government power plant, to be set up by the Power Grid Corporation of India, in the area. The issue had triggered mass violence, claiming two lives in January last year. “This election has shown that the people are with us. It has shown the real power of democracy… I don’t know if we will be able to actually stop the construction of the power plant. But it has given us strength… We will continue our agitation,” said Mollah, a tailor.
The Trinamool has won three gram sabha seats, a panchayat samiti and one zila parishad seat.
Imtiyazul Khan, 23, the younger brother of Mofizul Khan — one of the youths allegedly killed in police firing during last year’s violence — lost to TMC strongman Arabul Islam’s son, Hakibul Islam. The booths in Uttar Ghazipur — from where he contested — were allegedly captured by the TMC on voting day. The area had witnessed a clash between TMC workers and supporters of the JJPOBRC that day.
“The victory…has been a referendum of sorts. We have done well in areas where the election took place peacefully and people were able to vote,” said JJPOBRC spokesperson Hassan Mirza.