Sporadic incidents of violence, including assault on journalists and damage to vehicles, were reported from the seven constituencies of West Bengal that went to polls in the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections on Monday.
Though clashes between supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress and BJP were reported from Bongaon, Howrah and Hooghly, West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ariz Aftab said polling was peaceful. “Fifth phase has been more or less peaceful. With central forces in all booths, we were successful in conducting a peaceful vote with stray incidents,” he said.
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“Altogether 42 people were arrested, out of which three have been held in specific cases and others as a preventive measure. Twelve people were injured in 14 incidents. Five vehicles were damaged,” Siddhi Nath Gupta, ADG (Law and Order), said.
Five FIRs were lodged, including one against BJP’s Barrackpore candidate Arjun Singh and another against its Hooghly candidate Locket Chatterjee. The EC received three complaints against the central forces. “We are looking into it,” said an official.
Trinamool workers allegedly assaulted BJP’s Arjun Singh at Mohanpur in Barrackpore. The scuffle broke out when Singh visited a polling booth. While he alleged that his party agent was heckled, Trinamool workers accused Singh of trying to instigate violence.
“It was peaceful here till he arrived. He is disturbing peace,” said Rumpa Das, a Trinamool worker at a booth in Naihati.
At Tetulia in Aamdanga, Singh alleged that he was not allowed to enter the village by Trinamool workers. BJP and Trinamool workers had a face-off at the spot. The Trinamool workers also attacked journalists shooting pictures, leaving four journalists injured.
“TMC goons were not allowing people to vote in some booths. I went to check and was attacked,” said Singh. Singh is pitted against sitting Trinamool MP Dinesh Trivedi. He joined the BJP recently after he was denied a ticket by the Trinamool.
Accusing the Trinamool of unleashing violence on its voters, the BJP has demanded a repoll in Barrackpore. “The Trinamool wants to win elections by rigging as it cannot win by votes. We demand a repoll in the entire Barrackpore constituency,” said Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, alleging that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was behind the violence.
In Howrah, Trinamool candidate Prasun Banerjee got into a scuffle with the central forces. He was allegedly forced out of a booth. The incident took place at Howrah’s Litikuri School and Trinamool workers alleged that central forces personnel are working for the BJP. “I was not allowed to enter the booth by central forces. They pushed and lathicharged me. They are working for the BJP. We have lodged a complaint with EC,” he said.
At Dhanekhali in Sreerampur, BJP candidate Locket Chatterjee alleged that she was manhandled by Trinamool workers and her car was ransacked. The Trinamool alleged that Chatterjee tried to damage an EVM.
“At Dhanekhali, 90 per cent of the booths were rigged by Trinamool workers. When I went in one of the booths, I was manhandled and my vehicle was vandalised. I demand repoll in all the booths in Dhanekhali,” Chatterjee said. At Belmuri in Hooghly, Chatterjee was videographed threatening a polling officer and a few Trinamool supporters. The EC has sought a report in this regard.