WB records 76% polling despite sporadic incidences

WB records 76% polling despite sporadic incidences

Voters queue up to cast their vote at a polling station in Siliguri, West Bengal on April 18, 2019, during the second phase of Lok Sabha elections. (AFP Photo)

The second phase of Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal where three constituencies went to polls on Thursday was marred with sporadic incidents of violence. Darjeeling, Raiganj and Jalpaiguri constituencies went to polls and 76.07% votes were polled till 7 pm. Darjeeling recorded 72.14% votes, Jalpaiguri recorded 82.76% and Raiganj recorded 73.31% votes till 5 pm. Election Commission officials said that polling was by and large peaceful.

Majority of the incidents of violence took place in the Raiganj Lok Sabha seat. A reporter and camera person of a Bengali news channel were assaulted by unknown miscreants when they went to a polling booth at the Kataphulbari area of Raiganj upon getting information that voters were being intimidated there. The miscreants hit the reporter on his head with sticks and assaulted the camera person. Both of them were hospitalised.

Locals of Chopra area in Raiganj clashed with police when they put up a road blockade in protest against the absence of Central forces at the local polling booths. The situation flared up when a mob started pelting stones at the police who responded with baton charge and lobbed tear gas shells. Police detained three persons.

In another incident at Islampur in the same constituency, the vehicle of CPI(M) candidate Md. Salim was allegedly attacked by Trinamool Congress (TMC) cadres. Following the incident CPI(M) workers staged a protest demonstration in front of the Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEO) office in Kolkata.

Meanwhile, in Darjeeling a presiding officer was removed from poll duty by the Election Commission after Jan Andoloan Party (JAP) president Harka Bahadur Chettri cast his vote while talking on his cell phone. The incident took place at a polling booth in the Kalimpong Assembly segment. EC sources said that an FIR has been lodged against Chettri.

Several allegations of electoral misconduct by TMC were raised by the Opposition parties. Senior Congress leader Pradip Bhattacharya alleged that instead of sensitive areas, Central forces were deployed in areas with very little history of political violence.

CPI(M) state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra raised similar allegations. Meanwhile a BJP worker’s son was found hanging in the Arsha Bloc of Purulia district.

"Sishpal Singh (21) was found hanging in the Senabona village at around 9 am. Earlier his family had lodged a missing complaint as he could not be traced since Wednesday. A case of unnatural death has been lodged," said Akash Magharia, Superintendent of Purulia district.