West Bengal polls’ first phase ends peacefully (Roundup)

May 11th, 2008 - 10:13 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, May 11 (IANS) The first round of the three-phase local body elections in West Bengal ended peacefully Sunday evening with no major incident of violence reported in the five districts, including Nandigram area, where polling was held. According to police sources, stray incidents of booth capturing and clashes between rival political forces were reported from some areas of Purulia, West and East Midnapore, Burdwan and Bankura districts.

“The election was so far peaceful. Only a few minor incidents took place in some of the areas of East and West Midnapore and Burdwan. In all, a dozen people were arrested from all five districts Sunday,” West Bengal Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told IANS.

“It was really a very tough challenge for us as the first phase poll covered all the Maoist-affected districts of West Bengal. But it was handled properly. We had deployed adequate number of police personnel at all polling booths.”

Kanojia said people queued up at polling booths till 7 p.m.

Ruling Left Front chairman Biman Bose told a press conference here the first phase of panchayat elections ended peacefully.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP from East Midnapore Laxman Seth had a row with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deputy inspector general (DIG) Aloke Raj over the election process in the trouble-torn region.

Seth allegedly threatened the senior central police official for “going beyond” his jurisdiction and accused him of molestation.

The Nandigram police station’s officer-in-charge Debashis Chakraborty was also allegedly beaten up by CRPF personnel triggering tension in the area.

However, Raj brushed aside the allegations and said two female paramilitary officials of his team were abused by the local police when they were trying to sort out a conflict between CPI-M supporters and anti-land acquisition group Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) activists in Nandigram - where the two sides have been locked in a bloody turf war since January 2007.

“We will lodge a complaint to East Midnapore police superintendent S.S. Panda informing him about the incident,” Raj said.

In a village at the Contai subdivision of East Midnapore district, the Trinamool Congress alleged that CPI-M cadres chopped off a finger of one of their supporters and injured five other Trinamool members.

On the other hand, at Hijlana village in Burdwan a youth received knife injuries, which the CPI-M blamed on Trinamool. The youth was said to be a CPI-M supporter.

The opposition alliance also accused the ruling CPI-M of bringing supporters from Kolkata and jamming the polling booth at Dubrajdighi village in Burdwan.

“It was a deliberate attempt by the communists as they tried to divert the attention of all political parties by sponsoring violence in Nandigram before the polls,” senior Trinamool leader Saugata Roy said.

“About 75 percent vote had been cast in all 220 booths in Nandigram block-I and II. There was great enthusiasm seen amongst all the voters,” a senior district administrative official of East Midnapore said.

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