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Sporadic violence during third phase panchayat election in West Bengal

Calcutta, July 19 (PTI): Sporadic violence on Friday marked the third phase of panchayat elections in West Bengal covering three districts of Howrah, North 24-Parganas and South 24-Parganas where an average 25 per cent polling was recorded in the first four hours of voting.

Tapas Ray, secretary of the State Election Commission, said the voting process remained by and large peaceful till noon except for stray violence.        

”We are getting reports of sporadic violence and scuffles in some places, especially at Amta and Panchla in Howrah and in some parts of North 24-Parganas district,” Ray said.

He said that some crude bombs were hurled in Amata and Panchla.

Minor incidents of violence were also reported in North 24-Parganas district in which bombs were hurled in front of some booths, which led to temporary disruption of the voting process.

In the trouble-prone areas of Bhangar and Canning in South 24-Parganas district, some Communist Party of India (Marxist) agents were badly beaten up, the police said.

SEC officials said that till 11 am, 26.91 per cent votes were cast in Howrah, 25.10 per cent in North 24-Parganas district and 24.31 per cent in South 24-Parganas district.

The CPI(M), which had threatened to organise sit-in demonstrations and road blockades if violence occurred in rural Bengal, blocked roads at various places in and around the metropolis.

”In several areas, the people are not allowed to vote freely. Hundreds of Trinamul Congress goons have come from East Midnapore district and are now on the roads of North and South 24-Pargans district to stop people from voting,” alleged Nepal Deb Bhattacharjee, CPI(M) state committee member.

CPI(M) supporters blocked important roads in Naihati, Shyamnagar and BT Road crossing.

Reports from North 24 Parganas district said the CPI(M) organised road blockades at BT Road in Sodepur and Ghorpara Road in Naihati alleging that the Panchayat elections are not being held in a free and fair manner.

Party activists also stopped local trains at Shyamnagar Railway Station.