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West Bengal Panchayat election: Violence, bloodshed mark poll day's end; death toll climbs | 10 Points

West Bengal Panchayat poll was held on Saturday, however, the reports of violence and deaths dominated the headlines the entire day. Political parties including the TMC, BJP, and Congress said that they lost their supporters in the violence.

Ashesh Mallick Edited By: Ashesh Mallick Kolkata Updated on: July 09, 2023 0:02 IST
West Bengal, Panchayat polls
Image Source : PTI Violence reported in West Bengal panchayat polls on July 8

Panchayat poll violence: The Panchayat election in West Bengal, which was under the lens ever since its announcement due to violence leading to loss of lives, made the headlines more for the latest deaths on the polling day (July 7) than the voting percentages. Reports of stone-pelting, bloodshed, and ballot box theft dominated the day more than the speculations of a candidate defeating the other with a margin - narrow or large. Over 10 people were killed in the poll-day violence on Saturday, taking the total count of those losing lives since the announcement of polls on June 8 to over 20.

  1. Border Security Force sent a letter to the State Election Commission stating that no information regarding the sensitive booths were shared with them despite knocking the SEC. “Further, the incident of huge violence had taken in the places where the State Police are deployed. If the proper list of sensitive areas would have been provided then the deployment of central forces would have been easier,” BSF said.
  2. Miscreants set a Police vehicle on fire in Murshidabad, West Bengal. Clashes were reported between rival political groups at Nagaria village in Malda district. Security personnel was injured after clashes at Falimari in Cooch Behar. An unidentified individual was seen running away with a ballot box in the Cooch Behar district. A ballot box at a polling booth in Baranachina of Dinhata in Cooch Behar district was set on fire allegedly by voters who were angry with bogus voting.
  3. TMC said that it lost six of its supporters in Saturday's violence. In a statement, TMC said that 27 people have died since the polling dates were announced, out of which 17 were from the party. One supporter each of the BJP, CPI(M), Congress, and the ISF was killed in the poll day violence.
  4. BJP leader and LoP Suvendu Adhikari held Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee responsible for violence and asked why the CRPF was not deployed on booths. “CM Mamata Banerjee is responsible for the violence in the state today. Why CRPF was not deployed on the booths. We will go to court along with the family members of the deceased in today's violence and demand a detailed probe into the incident,” he said on Saturday.
  5. BJP alleged that most of the deaths were caused due to bullet injuries and asked where the weapons came from. “Lot of arms and ammunition have come to Bengal...most of the deaths were due to bullet injuries, who has sent these weapons here and who funded it, so there should be an NIA probe into this...many poor people died in the violence, what was Police doing?...this must be probed by CBI,” Adhikari said. He also demanded the imposition of the President’s Rule in the state.
  6. West Bengal Congress president Adhir Chowdhury alleged that the TMC goons were given a free run. CPI(M)’s state secretary Md Salim said that the mobilisation of the central forces was not done properly. “The central force was not properly mobilised in spite of the high court order and it was a goof up between central and state forces,” he said.
  7. TMC said if their own workers are being killed, how can the party be the one to instigate violence. “If Trinamool were indeed instigating violence, as the media is alleging, why would their own workers be targeted and killed? The Opposition has conceded defeat and is now attempting to shape the narrative around how violence affected the election, utilising their allies in the media,” TMC said.
  8. West Bengal BJP President Sukanta Majumdar wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah requesting to restore democracy in the state after it witnessed violence during the Panchayat poll.
  9. BJP president JP Nadda spoke to West Bengal LoP Suvendu Adhikari and BJP West Bengal in-charge Mangal Pandey on the violence issue, and said, “BJP will not let this death of democracy happen and we will take this fight to a decisive level in a democratic way”.
  10. West Bengal Governor CV Anand Bose said that the visuals from the ground are disturbing. "What I have seen on the ground is very disturbing, there is violence & thing I have noticed is that it is the poor people who get killed, the killers are also poor...we should kill poverty but instead we're killing the poor...this is not what Bengal deserves,” he said.

(With agencies inputs)

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