This Article is From Jul 11, 2023

Panchayat Polls: Bombs Go Off Outside A Counting Centre In Bengal, Another Sees Lathicharge

Bengal Poll Violence: In the past four days, 20 people have died in violence related to the three-tier panchayat elections in West Bengal.

Bengal Panchayat Polls: Police had to resort to a lathicharge outside a counting centre in Howrah.


Violence, which has been part of this year's panchayat elections in West Bengal since before they were announced, continued to mar the process even on counting day today, with crude bombs going off near one counting centre and the police resorting to a lathicharge at another. 

The Trinamool Congress is leading in nearly 15,000 seats. Its nearest rival BJP is leading in more than 3,000 out of 63,229 seats, according to the latest declarations. Counting of votes for the panchayat elections began earlier today under increased security and the watchful eye of central forces. Despite these precautions, however, there were reports of crude bombs exploding outside a centre at Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas. There was no confirmation of any injuries. 

Videos also showed police personnel resorting to a lathicharge as a big crowd gathered outside a counting centre in Howrah. 

In the past four days, 20 people have died in violence related to the three-tier panchayat elections in West Bengal, polling for which took place on Saturday and repolling took place yesterday. 

NDTV visited a polling centre in Beldanga in Murshidabad district, which has been the epicentre of the violence and saw six deaths between Friday and Monday. Heavy security has been put in place at the centre and people are being allowed in only after being frisked and having their identity cards checked. 

Authorities said they are hoping these measures will avoid a repeat of the violence that took place in the area on polling day. 

At a press conference today, the BJP said democracy is dying in Bengal. "If you read the newspapers, the words used most for the elections are firing, bombing, bogus voting and rigging. Ballot boxes are being burnt and thrown in lakes. The Trinamool Congress is attempting to win by indulging in vote rigging," the party's national spokesperson Sambit Patra said in Hindi.

Earlier today, West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose had vowed to crack down on what he termed the growing violence in the state. "There will be a relentless fight against growing violence in Bengal. Those who commit violence in the field will be made to curse the day they are born. All authorities will come down with a heavy hand on the goons and lawbreakers," news agency ANI quoted him as saying.

Over 5.6 crore people living in rural Bengal were eligible to cast their votes in the elections that saw over 2 lakh candidates battling for 73,887 seats in 3,317 Gram Panchayats, 341 Panchayat Samitis and 20 Zila Parishads. 

Repolling was conducted yesterday in 696 booths in 19 districts of the state, where voting for the panchayat elections was declared void due to the violence.