At least twelve people were reportedly killed and several others were injured after violent clashes broke out between rival groups during the panchayat elections currently being held in West Bengal. Around 73 per cent of voting was recorded till 5 pm, IANS reported.
Reports of clashes and booth capturing were received from pockets of South 24 Parganas, West Midnapore and Cooch Behar districts. In South 24 Parnagas’ Bhangar, the ‘Jomi, Jibika, Bastutantra O Poribesh Raksha Committee’ accused armed miscreants of Trinamool Congress of kidnapping their Panchayat Samiti candidate Sariful Mullick and terrorising the voters.
In North Dinajpur, three crude bombs were found near a polling booth at Galaisura, around three km from the district headquarters in Raiganj, police said. Of the three bombs, two were found on railway tracks, sources in the Railway Police Force said. Around 71,500 armed personnel have been deployed to keep an eye on every booth, reports IANS. Armed forces have also arrived from Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh to strengthen security arrangements.
According to West Bengal State Election Commission, the elections are being held in 622 zila parishads and 6,158 panchayat samitis, besides 31,836 gram panchayats of the state. This is because 16,814 gram panchayat seats, 3,059 panchayat samiti seats and 203 zila parishad were uncontested, the SEC said. Counting of votes will take place on May 17.
West Bengal Gram Panchayat Elections LIVE UPDATES: Track all the developments here
74 per cent voter turnout
The State Election Commission said the polling percentage was 73 at the end of voting hours, though the numbers would go up since 4.5 lakh voters were still queued up across the state, IANS reported.
Polling concludes in Bengal
Polling ends in West Bengal.
Yechury dismisses TMC's remarks on violence during Left rule
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury dismissed TMC leader Derek O'Brien's remarks that violence occurred during the Left rule too, saying had it been true, Mamata Banerjee would never have come to power in the state. "This itself shows that they are defensive and guilty. Media is showing what is happening. If this was happening during Left Front rule, then the TMC government would never have come in Bengal and the chief minister would not have been the chief minister of Bengal," the CPI(M) general secretary told reporters. He added, "First they didn't allow people to file nominations. Second after filing nominations, TMC started threatening the candidates to withdraw. The people who didn't withdraw they were attacked. This is nothing but a complete destruction of democratic process. We do not support president's rule. CPI(M) would answer it back democratically. And that democratic resistance has begun and that what would be our answer."
A Home Ministry official said the state government has been told to provide a detailed report on the circumstances leading to the violence and the steps taken to restore peace and punish those involved in the violence. Despite massive security arrangements, 12 people have been killed so far.
MHA seeks report from Bengal government
According to news agency ANI, the Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a report from the West Bengal government on incidents of violence during the elections.
Visual from West Midnapore
Voters queue at Kakrajhor in West Midnapore on Monday. (Express photo by Subham Dutta)
TMC leader Derek O’Brien lists out deaths under CPI(M) rule
As the opposition continued to train its guns on the Mamata Banerjee-led government over the increasing violence in the ongoing West Bengal Panchayat elections, senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O’Brien listed the number of deaths that took place since the 1990s and accused the CPI(M) and BJP of “deliberately trying to foment trouble”.
Immediate need to save Bengal: BJP's Kailash Vijayvargiya
BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya accused the "TMC goons" of capturing booths, and thereby, disrupting polling in several areas. "TMC goons have taken over polling booths in several areas. There is an immediate need to save Bengal," he tweeted.
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??????? ???????? #PanchayatElection ???? ??? ?? ??? ??#TMC ?? ?????? ??, ???? ??? ?? ?????? ???? ???, ?????? ??? ?? ?????? ?? ???? ??!
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People of Bengal will protest this authoritarianism: Mohammad Salim
CPI(M) politbureau member Mohammad Salim also condemned the violence in West Bengal and called the electoral process a "farce". He tweeted, "Large scale violence during Panchayat Elections in WB. Witness the rape and killing of Democracy by the Jungle Raj of @MamataOfficial & TMC. The whole electoral process has become a farce. The people of Bengal will come out on the streets to protest this authoritarianism."
Large scale violence during Panchayat Elections in WB. Witness the rape and killing of Democracy by the Jungle Raj of @MamataOfficial & TMC. The whole electoral process has become a farce. The people of Bengal will come out on the streets to protest this authoritarianism. pic.twitter.com/z3w3e4t8FI— Md Salim (@salimdotcomrade) May 14, 2018
Surjya Kant attacks TMC,BJP, says "both evils invincible"
Surjya Kanta Mishra, secretary of West Bengal CPI(M) state committee, tweeted, "Nobody should have any illusion of having free and fair election in Bengal in TMC rule or BJP can resist this onslaught on democracy. Only the people united against both the evils is invincible. To build a revolutionary party with mass line is the main task."
Nobody should have any illusion of having free and fair election in Bengal in TMC rule or BJP can resist this onslaught on democracy. Only the people united against both the evils is invincible. To build a revolutionary party with mass line is the main task. pic.twitter.com/YvkqOTYDUp— Surjya Kanta Mishra (@mishra_surjya) May 14, 2018
BJP MP Babul Supriyo accuses TMC of "brutally attacking" state's democracy
It is for the world to see how #TMChhi lets WB's Maa Maati Manush suffer in utter chaos.Bengal gets wounded and sheds blood every time TMC goons brutally attack the state's democracy and peace.Dreadful visuals of the Panchayat Polls prove just that.#MamataSupariKillerOfDemocracy https://t.co/tvk5tQrUaS— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) May 14, 2018
Ballot boxes looted at polling booths in Murshidabad
Ballot boxes were looted at gunpoint by unidentified people at polling booths numbered 44, 45 and 45K booths in Murshidabad, reports ANI.
41.51 per cent voter turnout till 1 pm
41.51 per cent voter turnout recorded till 1 pm in West Bengal, reports ANI.
TMC questions BSF's 'interference' in Bengal panchayat polls
WB poll panel must act to restore faith in electoral process: Sitaram Yechury
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has said the West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC) will be seen as complicit in the ruling TMC' "project of destroying democracy" if it does not act to restore faith in the electoral process. The CPI(M) will fight alongside the people to restore democracy and normalcy, Yechury added as reports came in of one person being killed and several people being injured in violence in several districts during panchayat polls in the state. "The Election Commission of West Bengal must act to restore faith in the process. Else it will be seen as complicit in TMC's project of destroying democracy. Allowing TMC to get away with throttling democracy has implications well beyond West Bengal," Yechury said on Twitter.
Two more casualties reported, take death toll to six
Two other deaths have been reported in violent clashes taking place in West Bengal since morning. This development takes the death toll till now to six.
TMC's Partha Chatterjee says 'voting peaceful'
There are minor incidents taking place, no major incidents have been reported. Administration is active in places where such clashes have taken place. Voting is being conducted peaceful. I strongly condemn the attack on journalists: Partha Chatterjee, TMC #PanchayatElection pic.twitter.com/SXwjExlQRH— ANI (@ANI) May 14, 2018
Violence during panchayat polls not surprising, demand President's Rule in Bengal: Babul Supriyo
Not surprised by all the incidents that are happening since morning. Bengal governmemt is a shameless government, you cannot expect them to follow any kind of constitutional behaviour. I demand President's Rule in WB, ANI quotes Union Minister Babul Supriyo as saying.
Additional forces of Kolkata Police arrive in Bhangar
Additional forces of Kolkata Police try entering Machibhanga village which is controlled by JJPOBC (Express photo by Partha Paul)
Four killed till now
At least four people have lost their lives in the violent clashes that erupted soon after the polling began at 7 am this morning acorss Bengal. Two people have been reported to be killed in Kakdweep in South 24 Parganas, one in Amdanga in North 24 Parganas. No information ye about the fourth casualty. However, the death toll has still not been confirmed by the police.
CPM calls for EC's intervention after murder of CPI (M) worker, wife
After a CPI (M) worker and his wife were allegedly burnt to death by Trinamool Congress activists in North 24 Parganas, the party in a letter to the State Election Commissioner has called for immediate intervention in the West Bengal panchayat elections. Accusing the state polling body of failing to conduct free and fair elections, the letter read, “The District Election Officer is a mute spectator of the festival of butchering the democracy and a large section of police administration are directly or indirectly shielding the armed goons.” READ MORE
26.28 per cent voter turnout till 11 am
26.28 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 11 am in the ongoing Panchayat polls in West Bengal, reports ANI.
BJP condemns violence during panchayat polls in Bengal
Highly condemnable and deplorable, it signifies that culture of political violence under TMC has engulfed entire West Bengal and it is an alarming sign for democracy, ANI quotes BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi as saying.
TMC worker shot dead in Kultali area of South 24 Parganas district
A TMC worker named Arif Gazi shot dead in Kultali area of South 24 Parganas district, reports ANI.
20 injured after crude bomb explosion in Amdanga's Sadhanpur in North 24 Parganas
At least 20 people have been injured after a crude bomb exploded in Amdanga's Sadhanpur in North 24 Parganas, reports ANI.
Didn't slap BJP supporter, says West Bengal minister Rabindra Nath Ghosh
BJP agent was trying to run away with ballot box, officers caught hold of him but people said let him go. I just drove people away using my hand, that's all. TMC hasn't attacked anyone: #WestBengal Minister Rabindra Nath Ghosh who was caught on cam slapping a BJP supporter pic.twitter.com/j6EvoK1wf7— ANI (@ANI) May 14, 2018
Violence reported in North 24 Parganas, Burdwan, Coochbehar and South 24 Parganas districts
Reports of violence have been received from North 24 Parganas, Burdwan, Coochbehar and South 24 Parganas districts. In Burdwan district, opposition CPI(M) and BJP accused the TMC of terrorising voters and hurling bombs outside polling stations. However, the TMC termed the allegations as baseless.
In Birbhum, masked men carrying weapons and sticks were seen intimidating voters outside some of the booths. In the Bhangar area of the same district, police resorted to lathi-charge and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse a crowd, following clashes, the official said. The SEC has asked the police to submit a report regarding the incident.
Over 11 per cent polling till 9 am
Over 11 per cent polling was recorded till 9 am in the panchayat polls currently underway. The rural polls are marked by sporadic incidents of violence in which several people were injured on Monday, SEC officials said.
Reportedly, one person was killed and three others were injured in South Dinajpur district's Tapan area after a bomb was hurled outside a polling station. The police are yet to confirm the death. "We have received a report that four persons were injured. Out of them, one has died. The district police superintendent is yet to confirm the death," an SEC official said.
The official said that 11.93 per cent polling was recorded till 9 am. Less than three hours after polling began, the State Election Commission (SEC) received complaints of violence from several districts. It has asked the police to take action, SEC officials said.
Uttar Ghazipur booths 100 and 102 located in Uttar Ghazipur Jamadarpukur Prathmik Vidyalaya, the area's primary school, were allegedly captured during the morning clashes. An eyewitness said that as soon as the voting began at 7 am, there was a clash between two groups - one belonging to the JJPOBC and the other to TMC strongman Arabul Islam. According to the eyewitness, they pelted stones at each other. The booth was subsequently captured by the TMC, alleged members of the JJPOBC.The booths allegedly captured by TMC workers fall under Arabul Islam’s son Hakibul Islam’s seat
JJPOBC members protest after clashes erupt at polling booths in Bhangar
Members of JJPOBC (Jomi Jibika Poribesh O Bastutantra Andolan Committee) protesting on road that separates Uttar Ghazipur from Machibhanga. (Express photo by Partha Paul)