| Chopra, the North Dinajpur hot bed in the run-up to the poll, voted peacefully. Picture by Avijit Sarkar
May 11: North Bengal turned out to be an oasis amid widespread violence that marred the panchayat election in the rest of the state today.
Except two deaths, one in a clash and the other in a heart attack, no fatalities were reported in the region, which had witnessed a series of pre-poll clashes.
Even Chopra and Islampur in North Dinajpur district, where eight people were killed in pre-poll violence and police firing, stayed calm, with no clashes reported.
Police fired warning shots in Malda’s Rotua and North Dinajpur’s Goalpokhar to break up supporters of rival parties. No one was injured.
From Malda to North Dinajpur and Jalpaiguri to Cooch Behar, authorities called the polling peaceful. Even the Opposition did not have much to complain about.
In almost all the districts in the region, the CPM today found itself pitted against not just the Opposition, but its allies, especially the RSP and Forward Bloc. This was the result of a rupture in the Left alliance.
Sudip Sanyal, a CPM worker, was killed in a clash between CPM and RSP workers at Dugibustee in Jalpaiguri district.
District superintendent of police Siddh Nath Gupta said Sanyal was hit with spears. He was rushed to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri, where he died of his wounds this afternoon.
Twenty-nine RSP and 12 CPM supporters were arrested in this connection. Gupta said polling continued in the area uninterrupted despite the clash.
The other death in the region was that of a polling officer in North Dinajpur. Sitaram Oram, 42, fell ill last night, district magistrate Ariz Aftab said.
He died of a heart attack while being taken to Siliguri for treatment this morning. Oram, a PWD assistant engineer from Cooch Behar, was drafted for the Lodhor gram panchayat in Dinajpur’s Chakulia block.
Police fired three rounds to disperse a group of people trying to snatch ballot papers from a booth at Chandmoni village in Rotua, Malda district magistrate Ashok Bala said. No one was injured. The firing followed a clash between CPM and Congress workers at the booth over attempts to stuff the ballot boxes, sources said.