Hafizullah Mollah was marching in support of an independent candidate when indiscriminate bombing and firing began at Natunhat at Bhangar around 4.30 pm. As people fled and some locals rushed him to hospital, smoke rose from homes set on fire by unknown persons.
The 30-year-old was shot in the mouth and died on way to hospital.
Police have arrested local Trinamool strongman Arabul Islam in connection with the murder on directions of chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Police sources say the attackers were Arabul Islam's loyalists.
Police has been rushed to the spot, led by the superintendent of police of South 24 Parganas district. The State Election Commission has sought an immediate report from him.
The independent candidate whose rally was attacked is backed by Jomi Jibika Rokkha Bahini or Land and Livelihood Protection Force leading a stir against a power grid station at Bhangar.
Arabul Islam, who is the strongman of Bhangar, and his supporters clashed repeatedly with the villagers participating in the agitation against land-acquisition for the power grid.
Nine independents from Bhangar had filed their panchayat nomination via WhatsApp as they could not go to nomination centres for fear of attacks. The State Election Commission accepted their WhatsApp applications.
The violence at Bhangar comes 24 hours after the State Election Commission got the nod from Calcutta High Court and Supreme Court to hold panchayat polls on May 14. The go ahead came after almost six weeks of back and forth in courts by opposition parties who filed multiple complaints of poll related violence since nominations began on April 2.
Their complaints forced a change of poll dates. Originally, the polls were to be held in three phases on May 1, 3 and 5. Now they will be held on one day with a security personnel strength that opposition parties say is completely inadequate.