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Poll banners destroyed

Malda, Feb. 19: Nearly 100 banners and posters of Congress and CPM candidates for the Englishbazar Assembly byelection were destroyed at a village last night, three days before the constituency goes to polls.

Both the parties filed separate complaints with the Election Commission and police accusing the Trinamul Congress of tearing down and setting on fire flexes, banners and posters at Mahespur in Jadupur II gram panchayat.

The poll will be held on Saturday and the campaign will end at 4pm on Thursday.

The Malda Congress president and Union minister of state for health, Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, alleged that banners of the party candidate, Narendranath Tewari, had been set alight last night at Mahespur. “Our party leaders and workers discovered that about 20 to 30 such posters and banners had been torn off. We have filed written complaints with police and the Election Commission, saying Trinamul destroyed the paraphernalia for the electioneering,” said Abu Hasem.

A CPM member of Jadupur II gram panchayat, Anguribala Das, said about 40 to 50 banners and posters of their candidate Kaushik Mishra had been torn down or set afire last night. “We discovered the incident this morning. I even saw banners of our candidate smouldering on the roadside near my house around 6am. We immediately informed the district leadership of our party about the incident,” she said.

A Congress leader of the area, Abdul Salam, said a large number of small flags and banners with the hand symbol had strung up on bamboo lathis at Mahespur. “This morning, we found at least 30 of them torn down. A collection of posters was also brought down and set on fire,” he said.

Trinamul candidate and state minister Krishnendu Choudhury denied that his party had anything to do with the destruction of banners and posters and alleged that the incident had been staged by the Opposition. “The Congress and the CPM brought down their own banners and posters and destroyed them. My posters had been damaged by CPM and Congress workers in Jhaljhalia area of town two weeks ago. I had complained to the police but no action was taken,” Krishnendu said.

Malda police superintendent, Prasun Banerjee, said complaints had been filed by the CPM and Congress and a probe had started.

“We have received complaints that the posters, banners and flexes have either been torn down or burnt at night. We are investigating the complaint and the police are patrolling the village,” Banerjee said.