Three killed, over 70 percent vote in West Bengal (Third Lead)

May 7th, 2009 - 7:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, May 7 (IANS) Three people were killed and five, including three policemen, were injured in poll related violence as over 70 percent of the electorate voted in the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal Thursday.
“We are still collating the data. But from preliminary estimate, we can say that the polling percentage will be over 70,” state chief electoral officer Debasish Sen said a little after 5 p.m., when voting closed.

About the violence, Sen said: “We had over 27,000 booths. The election passed off peacefully in most of them”.

As voters young and old exercised their franchise across 17 constituencies in seven southern districts of the politically volatile state to choose their representatives to the Lok Sabha from among 134 candidates, violent clashes marred the day in Murshidabad, East Midnapore and Burdwan districts.

In Murshidabad district’s Jangipur Lok Sabha constituency, from where External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is seeking re-election, a voter was killed when bombs were hurled at a queue before a polling station, state Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty told reporters.

In Domkol in 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.

Police reinforcements were rushed to control the situation. Three people have been arrested.

Two people died in East Midnapore district.

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

In trouble-torn Nandigram, two people were seriously injured after being hit on the head with rifle butts as activists of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the opposition Trinamool Congress clashed in at least two places.

“Two people have been injured in a political clash in Nandigram’s Adhikaripara area. They were taken to Khejuri block hospital with serious head injuries,” East Midnapore Superintendent of Police Pallab Kanti Ghosh told IANS.

Clashes also took place in the Gokulnagar locality of the region.

“The political clashes mainly took place in the rural pockets in locations away from the booths. So it did not affect the polling process,” a police officer said.

Nandigram falls under Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency where sitting MP Laxman Seth of the CPI-M is engaged in a tough contest with the Trinamool Congress’ Subhendu Adhikari.

The CPI-M later lodged a complaint with the Election Commission that the Trinamool had rigged the polls in 54 booths in Nandigram and demanded a re-poll.

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 them.”

Elsewhere in the state, there were sporadic incidents, but overall the situation remained peaceful. Long queues were seen outside polling booths as people began trickling into polling stations long before they opened at 7 a.m. to beat.

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 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.

In the 2004 election, the CPI-M had won 14 of the 17 seats in the state 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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