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Around 72 per cent turnout in violence-marked polling in Bengal
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Around 72 per cent turnout in violence-marked polling in Bengal

Agency News

Kolkata, May 12 : The sixth and penultimate phase of polling in Bengal witnessed widespread violence with Ghatal Lok Sabha constituency in West Medinipur virtually turning into a battlefield, even as an estimated 72 per cent of 1,33,69,749 electorate exercised their franchise to decide the fate of 83 candidates in Tamluk, Kanthi, Ghatal, Jhargram, Medinipur, Purulia, Bankura and Bishnupur Lok Sabha constituencies.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from Ghatal and Jhargram Lok Sabha seats soon after polls for the sixth phase began in West Bengal. In Keshpur, BJP candidate, former IPS officer and once a trusted lieutenant of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Bharati Ghosh was gheraoed by villagers when she went to a booth.

Ghosh's security resorted to baton charge following which locals lobbed stones injuring one of her security guards. Ghosh's car was ransacked. The incident took place around 8am. Ghosh was in tears this morning after she was attacked, heckled and pushed to the ground at a polling station.

Soon after, she was heckled at another polling station. The Election Commission has sought a report after Bharati Ghosh allegedly tried to enter the booth with her mobile phone and take a video. “I am a candidate. I can always enter a polling booth. Those who are trying to stop me should be arrested. They (Trinamool) are resorting to organised violence against me, " Ghosh said before leaving the spot.

A Trinamool Congress worker too was injured after he was hit by a bullet fired by Ghosh's bodyguard in the violence. In Jhargram a BJP worker Ramen Singh (46) was allegedly attacked by TMC workers at Beliabera village in Gopiballavpur. Singh was taken to a local hospital where he was declared brought dead. TMC leaders denied the allegations. The incident took place around midnight.

Riot police chased TMC activists away. The TMC activists vandalised several cars, including that of Ghosh and some journo vehicles.

However, Ghosh's car was seized and taken to Keshpur police station for not having valid papers. Consequently,Ghosh was left immobile. She sat on a protest demonstration at a Kali temple at Keshpur after her car was seized by local police for allegedly not having valid papers.

At Bhagowanpur under Kanthi Lok Sabha constituency two BJP supporters were shot at.

At Danton under Medinipur Lok Sabha constituency, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh faced violent protest from people who raised 'Go Back' slogan to him. Mr Ghosh is the party candidate from this constituency.

Four TMC workers were also injured at Belda in West Midnapore district after BJP and TMC men were engaged in a clash.

The camp office of TMC was ransacked allegedly by BJP workers, while the condition of one of the four injured TMC workers was stated to be critical. A BJP worker was found dead in tribal-dominated Jhargram. The party blamed the state's ruling Trinamool Congress for the worker's death.

However, the Trinamool Congress denied any link even as BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya alleged that Trinamool workers entered his home and killed him. Tension was running high in the area after the incident.

West Bengal BJP Chief Dilip Ghosh alleged TMC goons are stopping people from voting. He said, “At a booth in Rampura (West Medinipur), my people were being threatened since yesterday so I went to meet. TMC goons attacked us, we were stopped from going inside the booth. These people are stopping people from voting.”

Earlier, Ghosh's convoy was attacked by unidentified men and his car vandalised at Dantan in West Medinipur. Two people were injured in the violence, one severely.

Ghosh alleged that the men were sent by the TMC. "They are behaving like hooligans and not letting polling take place peacefully," he said. People were allegedly heard shouting 'Dilip Ghosh go back' after surrounding his car.

The state BJP president said, "We are being stopped by the police. Twice, our leaders cars have been attacked. This arbitrary government has crossed all limits and are not considering that it is a democracy. They have resorted to unethical measures."

Booths 188 and 189 in Bankura of West Bengal saw a full blown arguement between polling agents and BJP candidate Dr Subodh Sarkar. Sarkar had alleged that a polling agent was an "outsider without any identification proof.

Kolkata Corporation Mayor Firhad Hakkim, meanwhile, alleged in Kolkata that Mr Dilip Ghosh and Ms Bharati Ghosh have been orchestrating violence in Medinipur and Ghata' and charged the Election Commission with being a 'mute spectator'.

However, an election official said polling at eight Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal remained “peaceful”.

“Polling is very peaceful. It is going fine. Our officials are keeping a close watch on the polling process,” he said. (UNI)