The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Village polls bloodier with countdown

Calcutta, April 20: With barely 48 hours to go for the last date of withdrawal of nominations for the panchayat polls, reports of violence and allegations of intimidation continued to pour in from the districts, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s appeal to the parties to work for peace notwithstanding.

Jan Mohammad Sheikh, a man the CPM claimed was its supporter, was killed by unknown miscreants last night at Shankarpur village in Hariharpara, Murshidabad.

In Birbhum, Trinamul Congress candidates were beaten up and their houses looted and set ablaze, alleged party spokesman and leader of Opposition in the Assembly Pankaj Banerjee.

“Elections to the 22,000-plus seats where the Opposition could not field any candidate should be declared void,” he said. Trinamul would petition state election commissioner Ajay Sinha to restart the whole polling process in these areas, he added.

“Mamata Banerjee is going to meet L.K. Advani tomorrow,” Banerjee told reporters.

In South 24-Parganas, the RSP, a Left Front constituent, today iterated its protest against the CPM for unleashing “terror” on party nominees. At Char Vidya in Basanti, CPM cadre damaged four huts belonging to RSP supporters and torched a shop, alleged local RSP MLA Subhas Naskar.

CPM’s Canning zonal committee member Dulal Ghosh, however, said the violence was a fall-out of an intra-RSP clash. “They are just trying to blame someone else now,” he said, referring to the complaint lodged with the police by the RSP supporters.

Officials said Murshidabad topped the district-wise list for violence in the run-up to the polls with four persons being murdered in the district in the past week.

Sirajul Islam, a CPM candidate for the panchayat election, was murdered in Raipur village — also in Hariharpara — on the night of April 11. Another CPM candidate, Mantu Seikh, was murdered at Herampur village in Islampur on April 14.

On April 17, Congress worker Sreedhar Bagdi was killed by unknown miscreants at Aira village in Khargram. Bagdi’s wife is contesting the election on a party ticket.

Murshidabad superintendent of police Virendra said Jan Mohammad Sheikh was sitting on the bank of a river with some of his friends when miscreants hurled bombs at him. He died on way to the hospital.

Marjan Ali, a relative of the victim, claimed Seikh was an active CPM worker and had taken part in the campaign for the party candidate in the last Assembly elections.

He had joined the CPM two years ago and was with the Congress before that. He was threatened by some anti-socials, allegedly backed by the Congress, this time for refusing to work for the party, Ali alleged.

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