Bombs and Bullets rule the day as Poschim Bongo goes to Panchayat polls

Poschim Bongo Panchayat polls began at 7am on Monday, May 14 and there have been a spate of violent attacks across the state ever since then. Although media reports have yielded conflicting statistics, multiple reports claim that, as of writing this, at least ten people have been killed in poll-related violence in the state. 

West Bengal
Image: PTI

Apu Manna and Yogeswar Ghosh were shot dead, allegedly by youth on a motorcycle, when they refused to leave the queue in which were waiting to cast their votes at a booth in Haschara in Nandigram II block. Taibur Gayen was killed in a crude bomb attack allegedly by supporters of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the ruling party, in Amdanga in the North 24 Parganas district. A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker, Tapan Mondal, was killed in Beldanga in Murshidabad in another bomb attack. In the Budhakhali gram panchayat in Namkhana in the South 24 Parganas district, Debu Das and his wife, Uma Das, were allegedly burnt to death by supporters of the TMC. SUCI supporters allegedly shot dead a TMC supporter, Ariful Gazi, in Kultali in the South 24 Parganas. 

Separately, 20 people were wounded in a low-intensity blast at a polling station in Shuktabari in the Coochbehar district; the wounded include the TMC candidate. In Birpara, five journalists were wounded when a mob attempted to capture a polling booth. There were also reports of of ballot boxes being allegedly robbed at gunpoint in Murshidabad. In Bhangar in the state’s North Dinajpur district, police engaged in lathi-charge and threw tear gas shells to disperse a mob after clashes took place, according to an SEC official. A Story

Since the nomination filing process began on April 2, the opposition parties–the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), BJP and Congress, have alleged that many of their candidates were unable to file their nomination papers because of the ruling TMC’s “terror tactics.”. The TMC has categorically denied any involvement in the alleged activities. CPM leader Sitaram Yechury wrote to West Bengal’s Election Commission on Monday, May 14, highlighting the deaths of Debu Das and his wife, and urging it to “intervene”. Yechury tweeted that the Election Commission “must act to restore faith in the process. Else it will be seen as complicit in TMC’s project of destroying democracy. Allowing TMC to get away with throttling democracy has implications well beyond West Bengal.” 



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