13 killed in violence during West Bengal panchayat elections2 min read . Updated: 15 May 2018, 05:17 AM IST
The Union home ministry has asked the West Bengal government to file a report on poll-related violence
Kolkata: At least 13 persons were killed in West Bengal on Monday as polling took place across a little over 65% of the panchayat seats at over 41,000 booths in 20 districts of the state. All parties including the ruling Trinamool Congress claimed their workers were killed in poll-related violence.
The Union home ministry has asked the West Bengal government to file a report, said a senior official in New Delhi who asked not to be identified.
Anuj Sharma, additional director general of police (law and order) admitted to six deaths in poll-related violence since Sunday night. He admitted to six more unnatural deaths but said it couldn’t be confirmed if these were related to the election.
Surajit Kar Purkayastha, director general of police in West Bengal, said the administration had made adequate arrangements to pre-empt violence during polling, adding that the scale of violence witnessed on Monday was much smaller than in previous panchayat elections.
Nilanjan Shandilya, secretary at the state election commission, said 72.5% of voters had cast their votes until 5pm, and there were still an estimated 700,000 voters standing in queues outside polling booths.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, alleged that two of its supporters—Debu Das and his wife Usha Das—were burnt alive in Kakdweep in South 24 Parganas district on Sunday evening. Two more CPM supporters were shot dead in Nandigram, East Midnapore district on Monday, the party said, slamming the election in a statement as “cold blooded murder of democracy".
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that at least two of its supporters were killed on Monday. “Two are dead so far, but we are concerned that the toll will rise," said Sayantan Basu, general secretary of the party in West Bengal.
Among the dead is Dulal Bhoumik, a voter in Coochbehar district who was caught in crossfire. Also, a first-time voter in Malda was fired at but he survived.
The Trinamool Congress said its workers were attacked at various places but did not retaliate. Sanjit Pramanik, a young boy, was beaten to death by supporters of opposition parties in Nadia district, the party claimed. Amrito Saha, relative of a Trinamool Congress candidate in Raigunj, was shot dead inside a polling booth, it said.
Partha Chatterjee, Trinamool Congress’s secretary general and a minister in the state, claimed six of his party members were killed on Monday.
Opposition parties have not been able to field candidates in at least 20,076 seats, and the Supreme Court had in its verdict last week barred the state election commission from declaring winners in these seats until it had examined the legitimacy of filing nominations through electronic messaging.
The Calcutta high court had ruled last week that if the scale of violence during polling on Monday exceeds that of 2013, top officials including the state election commissioner will be ordered to personally pay up for compensation. BJP’s Basu said his party would move the Calcutta high court again.