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Dhaka Tribune

Toll in West Bengal panchayat poll violence rises to 15

Incidents of destruction of ballot boxes and intimidation of voters were also reported from some areas of the state on Saturday

Update : 09 Jul 2023, 06:29 PM

The toll due to violence in West Bengal during the panchayat elections rose to 15 after three more people died on Sunday, PTI reported.

According to officials, one person was found dead in South 24 Parganas while two others succumbed to their injuries in hospitals in Malda and Kolkata.

The deceased have been identified as Abu Salem Khan, Azhar Lashkar and Motiur Rahman. All of them were associated with the Trinamool Congress.

The panchayat polls for 73,887 seats were held in West Bengal on Saturday during which a voter turnout of 66.28% was recorded. Despite the deployment of central security forces by a Calcutta High Court order of last month, widespread violence has marred the polling process across the state.

Incidents of destruction of ballot boxes and intimidation of voters were also reported from some areas of the state. Several cars, including state minister Tajmul Hossain's, were burnt or vandalized.

Of the 15 persons killed, 10 were Trinamool Congress Party members and one worker each of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Communist Party of India, the Congress, the Indian Secular Front and a supporter of an independent candidate. The political parties, however, claim that the toll could be higher.

On Sunday, members of the BJP and the Congress held protests over the allegations of irregularities in the elections, reported PTI.

In Purba Medinipur district, BJP workers blocked the Haldia-Mecheda state highway at Nandakumar, alleging that ballot boxes were being tampered with at a counting centre.

“We received information around 3am that the ballot boxes were being changed,” said Tamas Dinda, a BJP Youth Wing member in Tamluk. “We are demanding repolling at all the booths in the area under the protection of central forces, besides counting of votes at the booths itself.”

The official in charge of Nandakumar station, Manoj Kumar Jha, said that the police used batons to disperse the protestors.

In Malda's Rathbari area, workers of the Congress blocked the National Highway 12 in protest against the violence during the panchayat elections. “We will also go to the court against it,” Congress MP Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury said, according to PTI.

The ruling Trinamool Congress alleged that the Opposition parties were “marketing” the violence to discredit the polls, reported NDTV.

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