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75% turnout in panchayat polls

Agartala, July 15: The statewise three-tier panchayat elections to eight zilla parishads, 35 panchayat samitis and 591 gram panchayats in Tripura passed off peacefully today barring a few incidents of violence.

The turnout was 75 per cent.

Sporadic incidents of violence in the state involving the CPM, Trinamul Congress and BJP workers left 20 people injured. Two Trinamul workers allegedly sustained bullet injuries in a clash last night with CPM workers.

Official sources in the state election commission said the poll percentage might go over 80 after the final computation is made with entire statistical data obtained from far-flung areas of the state.

Polling for the panchayats began in a festive mood all over the state with voters belonging to indigenous communities as well as non-tribal ones queuing up in front of polling stations from 6am, a good one hour before polls were scheduled to begin.

Polling gained momentum as the day progressed, but considerably slowed down as the sun started beating and a sweltering heat wave took over. However, after 3pm polling gained fresh momentum and it continued till 5pm.

Sources in the election department said if registered voters are found to be waiting in front of polling stations even after 5pm, voting hour will be extended.

Since last night, minor incidents of political violence have been reported from different parts of the state.

From the minority-dominated Sonamura subdivision, veteran Congress leader and MLA Billal Mia said in the Durganagar area, a group of armed CPM cadres allegedly opened fire on two Congress workers, Ashiq Mia, 25, and Abdul Mia, 30, but the duo fled with minor injuries.

Mounting tension has been reported from different parts of Sonamura subdivision where a number of CPM workers and supporters deserted the party and joined either the BJP or the Trinamul.

Three incidents of alleged attacks on Trinamul supporters have also been reported from Kalayanpur and Khowai areas of Khowai district.

“Five of our supporters were attacked and they were driven out of polling booths. They have suffered injuries. We have filed complaints with police but no action has been taken. The police in Tripura work as CPM cadres,” said Trinamul chairman Ratan Chakraborty.

The BJP state president Sudheendra Dasgupta said in many polling stations in North Tripura and Unakoti districts, their workers were attacked and almost all the polling agents were driven out of polling stations.

“We have filed a complaint with the state election commission with details, but we do not know whether any action will be taken,” Dasgupta said.


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