West Bengal panchayat polls: Violence mars last day of nomination

One ISF worker killed in Bhangar, while one CPI (M) worker shot dead in Chopra, as West Bengal saw two deaths on the last day of filing of nominations for panchayat elections

| Updated: 16 June, 2023 1:06 am IST
ISF’s Bhangar MLA Naushad Siddiqui blamed rival TMC for violence

KOLKATA: West Bengal continued to simmer ahead of the panchayat elections next month as two opposition workers were killed in pre-poll violence.

On the last day of filing nominations, clashes broke out between workers from the ruling Trinamool Congress and Indian Secular Front (ISF) workers at restive Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district on Thursday.

The ISF accused TMC leader Arabul Islam of orchestrating the death of the ISF worker. “At Block 2, Bhangar Vidhan Sabha, one of our ISF workers was killed by the goons from TMC while on his way to the BDO office,” one ISF worker said.

ALSO READ: Bombs, bottles fly as violence grips Bhangar 1 in West Bengal

While ISF worker Mohiuddin Molla died in the clash, another worker, Bahauddin Mollah, has been admitted to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital with bullet injuries.

In another incident, alleged TMC ‘goons’ fired at a CPI(M)-Congress rally in Uttar Dinajpur’s Chopra, which led to the death of one left supporter, Mansur Ali.

According to a CPI(M) supporter, left and Congress workers were on their way to submit their nominations when there was a sudden firing at the procession. It led to the death of Ali.

According to the sources, “Five people were reported to have been shot. Three of them were seriously injured and one of them died.”

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Since the first day of the filing of nominations, violence has been reported from across the state. A Congress worker lost his life on the very first day. A CPI(M) supporter was shot dead on Thursday. Opposition parties allege that they are targeted by the ruling TMC. They also said that TMC goons are threatening them against filing nominations.

West Bengal’s Bhangar continues to remain tense amidst reports of clashes between supporters of the ISF and the ruling TMC on the sixth and penultimate day of filing nominations for the scheduled panchayat election.

While prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been issued, violations of the orders are reported from outside the Block Development Officer’s (BDO) office on Basanti Highway, where a large gathering of people has been seen.

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Amid a political blame game between the two parties for the ongoing violence, there are reports of bombs and glass bottles being hurled. Incidents of violence are also reported on the way to the BDO office.

ISF’s Bhangar MLA Naushad Siddiqui and TMC’s Canning Purba MLA Saokat Molla blamed each other for the ongoing violence ahead of the panchayat election next month.

ALSO READ: WB panchayat poll: Calcutta HC says nomination time insufficient

Anticipating violence, in a state that has a long history of poll-related incidents, the state election commission mandated the issuance of Section 144 orders at the nomination centres on the day of the announcement.

Meanwhile, the town of Canning also experienced violent clashes between two factions within the TMC, where bombs and bricks were hurled. Although the situation has been brought slightly under control, police patrolling remains in force throughout the area to maintain order.

Responding to the escalating violence, the Calcutta High Court ordered the deployment of central forces in seven sensitive districts, particularly in areas where there is a shortage of police personnel due to the elections. However, the court refrained from interfering with the nomination time limit.

The West Bengal panchayat system consists of three tiers – gram panchayat, panchayat samiti, and zila parishad. The state has a total of 3,317-gram panchayats and 928 seats across 22 Zilla Parishads.

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