Four killed, 75 percent polling in West Bengal (Fourth Lead)

May 7th, 2009 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, May 7 (IANS) Four people were killed and 12, including three policemen, injured in poll-related violence, as nearly 75 percent of the electorate voted in the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal Thursday.
“Between 70 and 75 percent of the people have voted. But this figure may go up as polling was still continuing in various areas even after the scheduled close of 5 p.m.,” state chief electoral officer Debasish Sen told reporters here.

Sen termed the second phase of elections in the state as overall peaceful, “despite sporadic incidents”.

People boycotted polls over local issues in three booths - one each in Murshidabad, Birbhum and Burdwan districts.

In another Murshidabad district booth in Jangipur, from where External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is seeking re-election, polling could not be held due to problems with the EVM, he said.

As voters young and old stood in long queues to exercise their franchise across 17 constituencies in seven southern districts to choose their representatives to the Lok Sabha from among 134 candidates, violent clashes marred the day in Murshidabad, East Midnapore, Burdwan and Howrah districts.

In Jangipur, a voter was killed when bombs were hurled at a queue before a polling station, while at Domkol under Murshidabad Lok Sabha constituency, a man affiliated to a political party succumbed to injuries he sustained while making bombs Wednesday.

A man was killed and three policemen sustained splinter injuries when bombs were hurled outside a booth during polling at Asansol in Burdwan district.

Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told IANS that the incident stalled the voting process for some time as enraged locals set ablaze several houses, cars and four wheelers. Three people were arrested.

At Chandrapur in Uluberia constituency of Howrah district, a ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) worker was shot dead soon after the polling got over.

Seven people were injured when firearms- and sharp weapons-wielding supporters of the Congress and the CPI-M clashed at Islampur in Murshidabad district in the evening.

Two people died in East Midnapore district.

A Border Security Force personnel died after a cerebral attack while on poll duty in Nandigram and a voter succumbed to sunstroke in Contai.

In trouble-torn Nandigram, two persons sustained serious injuries after being hit on the head with rifle butts as activists of the CPI-M and the opposition Trinamool Congress clashed in at least two places.

Clashes also took place in the Gokulnagar locality of the region. But polling was not disrupted. Nandigram falls under Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency.

The CPI-M later lodged a complaint with the Election Commission that the Trinamool had rigged the polls in 52 booths in Nandigram and demanded a re-poll.

State CEO Sen said the Election Commission has also received allegations that EVMs were broken in three booths - two in Howrah and another in Burdwan. “We are looking into these cases.”

In Jangipur, the Congress complained that the CPI-M had captured 12-14 booths.

Voting was peaceful in the Hooghly district pocket of Singur, where sustained protests by the Trinamool Congress had led to Tata Motors shifting its prestigious Nano car plant to Gujarat’s Sanand. Singur is part of the Hooghly Lok Sabha seat.

Congratulating the people for the “overall peaceful elections”, CPI-M state secretary Biman Bose blamed the opposition Congress-Trinamool alliance of indulging in violence in various parts of the state.

On the other hand, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee accused the CPI-M of “state-sponsored terrorism”, and called upon the people to stand up and protest against the “atrocities” by Left parties.

State Congress president Pranab Mukherjee described the violence as “undesirable’, but thanked the Election Commission and the people for the successful conduct of the polls.

“There have been violenct incidents and police should find out the culprits. The law should take its own course. But conducting the elections is always a difficult task. In the given situation, the commission has done well. But political parties should also show restraint,” Mukherjee told the media in Jangipur.

In the 2004 election, the CPI-M had won 14 of the 17 seats that went to polls Thursday.

Of West Bengal’s 42 seats, 14 went to the polls April 30, while 11 will vote in the last round May 13. The votes will be counted May 16.

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