Six deaths were reported as violence escalated in the four poll-bound districts in the fourth phase of panchayat elections Monday. Significantly,one person was killed when central forces fired at voters at Ratua in Malda district. Over 35 people including three children were injured.
The second and the third phase had recorded three and five killings,respectively. The first phase covering the Maoist-dominated districts had passed off without a loss of life.
On Monday,nearly 110 people were arrested for disturbing the poll process,rioting and arson.
According to the State Election Commission (SEC),the polling was nearly 60 per cent by 5 pm.
In Malda district,a 55-year-old farmer,Abdul Mannan,was shot dead by the CRPF after voters,angry at a slow queue,threw stones at a polling booth at Sambalpur village in Ratua. The CRPF reportedly fired six rounds.
While the SEC has sought a report from the district authorities about the firing,the ruling Trinamool Congress government has accused the central forces of indulging in excesses.
In the third phase,too,a 25-year-old voter was shot dead by central forces at Joynagar in South 24-Parganas.
A woman voter,Noorjahan Biwi,was killed in a bomb attack when clashes broke out between two rival parties at Beldanga in Murshidabad. It was an improvised socket bomb made with iron pipes,said the local police.
The bodies of two CPM supporters were recovered early Monday morning at Basudevpur village in Mayureshwar area of Birbum district. Sources said the two were suspected to have been killed when bombs went off accidentally Monday morning.
Another body was recovered from Raninagar in Murshidabad district in which the victim is suspected to have died of bomb splinter injuries.
Another CPM supporter was killed in a bomb explosion at Mayapur in Nadia district.
The police said the four bodies have been sent for the post-mortem examination.
Three children were reportedly injured when a bomb hit them while they were playing outside their home. One of them has been admitted to Malda district hospital in a critical condition.
There were contrary claims by the Trinamool Congress and Congress leaders regarding the incident.
While the Congress alleged that a bomb kept in an ice cream box near the house of a TMC panchayat candidate went off accidentally,injuring the three children,the TMC said some Congress workers hurled the bomb.
While complaints about slow polling were reported from all the four districts,ballot snatching and attacks on rival parties with firearms were rampant in Murshidabad and Malda.
A large number of people were admitted to different health centres with bullet wounds. At Kaliachawk in Malda,for instance,a TMC supporter was injured by alleged Congress goons.
Violent incidents were reported from Sherpura in Malda where TMC armed squads allegedly attacked Congress workers. Congress MP and Union Minster Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury rushed to the area to contain violence.
In Murshidabad,large-scale ballot snatching and booth capturing were reported form Hariharpara,Beldanga,Jalangi,and Domkal.
In Domkal,during the 2008 panchayat polls,as many as 22 people died in clashes between the Congress and the CPM supporters.
Ratua (Malda): Central forces fire six rounds,1 Cong worker dead
Beldanga (Murshidabad): Bomb attack kills a woman voter
Mayureshwar (Birbhum): 2 bodies with bomb wounds recovered
Raninagar (Murshidabad): A body with bomb wounds recovered
Mayapur (Nadia): A body with bomb wounds recovered