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Lok Sabha elections 2024: West Bengal witnesses violent clashes in last phase of polling; EVM thrown into pond

In Kultali, South 24 Parganas district, an angry mob forced its way into polling stations, seizing an EVM and throwing it into a nearby pond

Written by  Jasleen Kaur -- June 01st 2024 11:37 AM
Lok Sabha elections 2024: West Bengal witnesses violent clashes in last phase of polling; EVM thrown into pond

Lok Sabha elections 2024: West Bengal witnesses violent clashes in last phase of polling; EVM thrown into pond

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Violence and escalating tensions across various regions marked polling for nine Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal during the seventh phase on Saturday. The polling, conducted under stringent security measures, saw significant disturbances in multiple areas, notably in Bhangar, Kultali, and Sandeshkhali, impacting the overall electoral process.

Clashes in Bhangar

In the Satuliya area of Bhangar within the Jadavpur constituency near Kolkata, violent clashes erupted between supporters of the Indian Secular Front (ISF) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M). The confrontation led to several ISF members sustaining injuries, exacerbated by the use of country-made bombs. 

EVM Vandalism in Kultali

In Kultali, located in South 24 Parganas district, an angry mob stormed polling stations, seizing an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and throwing it into a nearby pond. This act of vandalism occurred following allegations that some polling agents were barred from entering the booths. In retaliation, local residents seized the EVM equipped with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) and discarded it.

The Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal issued a statement detailing the incident: "Today morning at 6:40 am, Reserve EVMs and papers of Sector Officer near Benimadhavpur FP school, at 129-Kultali AC of 19-Jaynagar (SC) PC, were looted by a local mob. One Control Unit (CU), one Ballot Unit (BU), and two VVPAT machines were thrown into a pond. An FIR has been lodged by the Sector Officer, and necessary action has been initiated. The poll process in all six booths under the sector is running uninterrupted. Fresh EVM and papers have been provided to the Sector Officer."

Ongoing Tensions in Sandeshkhali

Late Friday evening and into the early hours of polling, tensions flared in Sandeshkhali under the Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency. Local women, armed with bamboo sticks, protested against alleged threats from Trinamool Congress (TMC) activists and state police. They accused associates of the now-suspended Trinamool leader Sheikh Shahjahan, currently imprisoned, of intimidating their families. Conversely, state police claimed that the unrest began after local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters assaulted civic volunteers.

Prominent political figures, including the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, and BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya, shared videos of the protests on social media. They accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of using party goons and state police to intimidate voters, further inflaming the situation.

Violence in Bhangar

In Bhangar, early Saturday saw clashes between TMC and All India Secular Front (AISF) activists, resulting in injuries to a female AISF activist. Additionally, the vehicle of AISF candidate Nur Alam Khan was vandalized, allegedly by Trinamool supporters. The repeated incidents of violence and intimidation created a tense environment for voters and electoral officials alike.

Extensive Security Measures

Polling for the nine Lok Sabha seats —  Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Dakshin and Kolkata Uttar began at 7 am under stringent security measures. The Election Commission deployed 1,020 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) in the state, with 978 dedicated to polling duty. A total of 1,960 quick response teams (QRTs) were deployed statewide to address any tensions and ensure the safety and integrity of the polling process.

- With inputs from agencies

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