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    Tuesday, 15 May 2018

    Twelve people dead in political violence in east India

    Twelve people were killed  in clashes between rival political groups vying for village council seats in eastern India, police said as local councils elections are being held in west Bengal

    Ballot boxes were set ablaze and gunshots fired in West Bengal state, which has a history of fractious politics and polling violence.

    “We have, so far, received telephonic complaints of several deaths. We are awaiting written confirmation,” said State Election Commission Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya, who put the polling percentage till 1 pm at over 41 per cent.

    A youth was beaten to death as he tried to enter a polling premises in Nadia district while a Trinamool Congress activist was shot dead in South 24 Parganas district’s Kultali, police said.

    The Communist Party of India-Marxist claimed one of their activists was killed in bomb attacks in North 24 Parganas district’s Amdanga.

    Two deaths were reported from Murshidabad district, and another from Nadia.

    “Three youths were beaten up by locals in Nadia district’s Shantipur area on Monday morning. Police rescued and got them admitted to a local hospital. One of them, Sanjit Pramanik, succumbed to his injuries,” Nadia district Superintendent of Police Santosh Pandey told reporters.

    “Trinamool Congress worker Arif Ali Gazi was shot in the chest while coming out of a polling booth. He died in a hospital,” an officer from Kultali police station said.

    Though CPI-M’s North 24 Parganas leaders claimed their party activist died in Amdanga after he was attacked with crude bombs, there was no police confirmation.

    “We have heard of the incident but it is not confirmed yet. We are going to the spot,” an officer from Amdanga police station said.

    The polling for electing 38,616 representatives in three tiers of the Panchayati Raj institutions started at 7 a.m. and will continue till 5 p.m.

    As the day progressed, reports of clashes, booth capturing, vandalising of ballot boxes and rigging were received from pockets of South and North 24 Parganas, North Dinajpur, Nadia, West Midnapore and Cooch Behar districts.
    In South 24 Parganas’ Bhangar, the ‘Jomi, Jibika, Bastutantra O Poribesh Raksha Committee’ (Committee for protecting land, livelihood, ecology and environment), which is spearheading an anti-power grid movement in the area, accused armed miscreants of the Trinamool Congress of kidnapping their Panchayat Samiti candidate Sariful Mullick and terrorising voters.
      “Crude bombs were found near several polling booths in the districts,” Sharma said. Twelve people were killed, he said, while five local journalists were injured trying to cover the melee.. India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party blamed West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress Party for the deadly clashes.The Trinamool party, led by firebrand Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, sought to play down the violence. "Every death is a tragedy," Derek O’Brien, a Trinamool leader, wrote on Twitter. "Yes, few dozen incidents. Say, 40 out of 58000 booths. What’s the percentage?" More than 60,000 security personnel from West Bengal and neighbouring states were deployed to oversee security for the polls.
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