One person was killed and over 20 injured during the fifth and final phase of the panchayat elections today,taking the toll in poll-related violence to 21 since the exercise began,as voter turnout was recorded at 75 per cent.
State Election Commission sources said there was around 75 per cent turnout in the four districts of North Dinajpur,South Dinajpur,Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar.
“Till 5:00 pm there was 75 per cent polling in all the four districts,” SEC state secretary Tapas Ray told PTI.
Police sources said that 50-year-old Abdul Aziz was stabbed to death during a clash at Borobilla at Itahar in North Dinajpur district.
Opposition CPI-M claimed that Aziz was a party-man and said a number of its supporters were injured in the clash.
Police,however,did not comment on the claim.
A 70-year-old voter died of a heart attack at Phulbari while he was waiting in queue at the Dabgram-Phulbari gram panchayat in Jalpaiguri district.
The police said that the man,Mahendra Burman,was rushed to a nearby health centre where he was declared brought dead.
Sporadic clashes were reported from the district.
Altogether 16 rival political party activists were injured in a CRPF lathicharge before a polling booth at Ranapur in North Dinajpur district,the sources said.
Voting was suspended in a booth under Durgapur gram panchayat after miscreants attempted to snatch ballot papers,while at Kapusia block miscreants snatched a ballot box and threw it into a river,the sources said.
In Raiganj block,police fired in the air to disperse a mob which had gathered in front of the Alenga polling booth and attempted to snatch ballot papers,they said.
Three persons were injured at Talguri in Jalpaiguri district in a clash while another person was hit on the head when he was going to cast his vote,the police said. All the four were stated to be CPI-M supporters.
Jalpaiguri MP,Mahendra Roy (CPI-M) alleged that 200 party supporters were prevented from voting at Kukurjan gram panchayat,Krantipara,Khalpara,Majhabari,allegedly by the TMC,which was denied by the ruling party.
Around 500 CPI(M) supporters alleged that they were not allowed to vote by the Trinamool Congress at Pukurjan village in the Jajganj block of the district.
Meanwhile,12 Kolkata Police personnel were suspended on charges of gross indiscipline after they had refused to perform election duty.
The constables were called back and suspended last night,Joint CP (hqs) Jawed Shamim said.
Opposition parties including CPI(M) and Congress accused the Trinamool Congress of letting loose a reign of terror in North Bengal,a charge denied by TMC.
“More than 100 Left Front workers were injured in attacks in Coochbehar district. Voters were obstructed while there were incidents of booth capturing and jamming by TMC,” Left Front chairman Biman Bose said.
WBPCC president Pradip Bhattacharjee alleged that the TMC had destroyed democracy by letting loose terror in rural Bengal.
Trinamool Congress General Secretary Mukul Roy,however,said “This is the first time that people have been able to exercise their democratic rights freely and fairly.
“The allegations of violence and rigging are baseless. After the elections opposition parties will be found only in TV channels and newspapers,” Roy claimed.
DDC vice-chairperson Ashish Khetan said, “As of today he does not hold the charge anymore.”