13 killed in violence during West Bengal panchayat elections

Minnie Murray
May 16, 2018

Union Minister Babul Supriyo today demanded imposition of President's rule in West Bengal after violence ripped through the state during the Panchayat elections. Ms Banerjee said that 14 Trinamool supporters have been killed in the violence ahead of the state rural polls, while BJP's Jai Prakash Majumdar claimed the death toll of their supporters is 52.

Within eight hours of West Bengal Panchayat polls, six persons died and over 20 were injured after violence erupted across the state.

A couple of CPI (M) workers were allegedly burnt to death by Trinamool Congress workers in the Kakdwip area of South 24 Parganas district.

Meanwhile, the Centre has sought a report from West Bengal government in view of violence during panchayat elections. The police had to hurl tear gas to control the mob.

Both had assured the court last week of holding peaceful elections, with the poll panel expressing satisfaction with the security arrangements of the state government and saying central forces were not needed. One person was hit on the head with a knife while another lost his finger, police said.

Clashes were also reported between BJP and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) workers in Durgapur, in addition to clashes in Cooch Behar. CPI-M workers were also killed in Nandigram in East Midnapore district. Anuj Sharma, a senior state police officer, said violence began nearly as soon as voting got underway in the "panchayat" elections, the most local tier of governance in India.

A few unidentified people looted ballot boxes from polling booths no. 44, 45 and 44 K at gunpoint.

The violence that the opposition parties had widely anticipated, unfolded quickly in the day to soil the SEC's reputation even more. "There had been some incidents, but in most cases our people were killed as BJP, CPM and Congress came together to conspire against us", he claimed. Reacting to the overall situation, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted, "The State Election Commission must act to restore faith in the ballot process".

Videos of party workers, armed with sticks, were seen stopping voters from entering booth at several booths.

In Keshpur area in West Midnapore, police resorted to lathicharge and chased men allegedly threatening voters. The panchayat polls is being held after a protracted legal battle in the Kolkata High Court and the Supreme Court involving the SEC, the TMC and the opposition parties.

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