WB Poll Violence Continues: BJP Worker Found Dead During Sixth Phase Voting, Party Accuses TMC

13 May 2019 8:17 AM GMT
WB Poll Violence Continues: BJP Worker Found Dead During Sixth Phase Voting, Party Accuses TMC
Image Credit: The Times Of India, British Telecommunications (Representational)

West Bengal continues to be marred by widespread violence in the general elections 2019. The sixth phase of polling in West Bengal, which took place on May 12, was no different. A BJP worker was found dead in Jhargram district, stone pelting was reported in Ghatal and political clashes erupted in several places.

Additionally, on the night before the polling day, two BJP workers were shot in East Medinipur. Both were admitted in hospital and are now being treated for the injury. In the same district, a TMC worker was found dead that night.

As per reports, a former IPS officer and BJP candidate from West Midnapore district’s Ghatal, Bharati Ghosh was chased by Trinamool Congress-backed goons. Ghosh had to reportedly seek refuge inside a temple beside Keshpur police station. The miscreants accused Ghosh of instigating disturbance in the area.

Violence Rocks Mamata’s Turf

A 30-year-old Ramin Singh, BJP booth worker was found dead at Gopiballapur in Jhargam district, in West Bengal. BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya alleged that he was killed by TMC-backed goons.

As per local BJP leader Sumit Patra, trouble started when TMC objected to BJP planting party flags in the area. While speaking to News18, Patra said, “We all went home around 7.30pm after putting up the flags. Around 10.30pm, when Singh came out of the house to wash his hands after dinner, someone hit him on the head with an iron rod. He was brutally beaten to death and assailants led by local TMC leader Kalipada Sur along with his gang fled after the attack.”

However, local police said that there were no injury marks found on Singh’s body. They said that he suffered a seizure which caused his death. Singh’s brother Dhiren has requested for a CBI probe into the matter.

In a separate incident, two BJP workers, identified as Anata Guchait and Ranjit Maity were shot at Bhagabanpur of East Midnapore on the night of May 11. They are undergoing treatment in a local hospital. On the same day, a TMC worker, Sudhakar Maiti was found dead in Contai. Reportedly, he went missing while he was visiting a sick relative in Kanthi Sub-Divisional Hospital. Later in the night on May 11, he was found and brought to the same hospital, where he was declared dead. Maiti was an active Left activist who had very recently joined ruling TMC.

Bengal’s BJP candidate Bharati Ghosh was forced to take refuge in a temple after she was reportedly chased by TMC-backed miscreants. Her convoy was attacked by a mob in Ghatal Lok Sabha constituency. According to reports, she was seen filming inside the booth with her mobile phone. Her personal guard had allegedly entered the booth with arms. The Election Commission has directed Medinipur District Magistrate to file FIR against the BJP candidate.

Elections: A ‘Bloody’ Battle in West Bengal

West Bengal routinely faces election violence. This has become endemic and more violent. There were reports of violence from Bongaon, Hooghly and Barrackpore seats, while the polling for the fifth phase of Lok Sabha elections was underway. At the Bongaon constituency, located near the Indo-Bangladesh border, bombs hurled at police forces injured a TMC worker and a police constable critically.

During the fifth phase, Locket Chatterjee, a BJP candidate in Hooghly, accused state police forces of facilitating and encouraging rigging in some booths in Hooghly’s Dhanekhali. The presiding officer in the booth, however, denied the allegation. Meanwhile, media vehicles were attacked by some locals. TMC candidate Prasun Bandyopadhyay was allegedly heckled near a polling booth in Howrah.

Arjun Singh, BJP’s Barrackpore candidate, alleged on May 6 that TMC workers attacked him when he visited a polling booth. Further, there have been reports of BJP agents being chased away from polling stations. “People were not allowed to vote properly and I went there to have a look. I have the right to enter booths but police stopped me and hit me,” Singh alleged.

The Election Commission, which later went on to seek a report from the district administration, said, “We have sought a report from the polling officers posted in these stations. Otherwise, the polling so far has been peaceful.”

Last month, poll violence shook Birbhum, a district near Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Abode of Peace’, Shantiniketan. In Birbhum, where the constituencies of Birbhum and Bolpur were voting last month, men and women armed with bamboo sticks protested for TMC workers allegedly not letting them cast their vote.

Alleging “illegal action of central forces”, the TMC filed a complaint with the Election Commission on April 29. In a letter, it wrote, “There were various instances where on instructions of BJP leaders, Central Forces acted in a manner which is not conducive to free & fair elections in WB.”

During the fourth phase, there were reports of clashes between BJP and TMC workers outside a booth in Asansol’s Barabani. This happened following a tiff inside the station between BJP’s Babul Supriyo and polling officials, an Election Commission source told PTI. Babul Supriyo’s car was vandalised.

“I have come here just to see how the polling process is underway, but I found that voters are not being allowed to cast their ballots. Our fight is to establish democracy… It is shameful that I am saying this in a democratic country,” the minister said, as reported by India Today.

Clashes were also then reported at Naihati, with allegations of voters being intimidated at Rampurhat in the district. Locals protested in Asansol’s Jemua, asking for central forces to be deployed there.

Meanwhile, the BJP had alleged that the TMC had resorted to rigging and violence to win the elections, and it has demanded re-polling in violence-marred constituencies. TMC continues to maintain that the BJP is conspiring to usurp the Mamata Banerjee government.

“We demand repoll in most of the booths. The way TMC has used goons and state police to rig the elections is condemnable. It is afraid of defeat, that is why the party has unleashed such unprecedented violence,” BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said.

“On all Lok Sabha seats which were having polling today (Monday, May 6) has seen widespread violence, including the rigging of booths, destruction of EVMs and brutal attacks on BJP candidates. We also seek an order for re-polling” said a letter that the West Bengal BJP has written to West Bengal CEO over poll-related violence.

TMC, however, maintained that the BJP and the CPI(M) instigated violence during the elections. “The BJP and the CPI(M) beat up our workers during the polls. The people of Bengal will reject these divisive forces,” TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said.

Also Read: West Bengal: Poll Violence Continues To Rock The State Through The Voting Season

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