Bijpur, North 24 Parganas: While most of Howrah and North 24 Parganas was relatively calm during phase four of voting in West Bengal today, one family was not so lucky.
A three-and-a-half-year-old girl was allegedly beaten up with other members of her family by masked men. The men even threatened to kill the family if they went to cast their vote. Two people have been arrested in connection with the incident after the Election Commission stepped in and took steps to ensure the family can vote.
While political violence picked up during phase three of voting on April 21, Sunday's incident was perhaps the first time during these elections when a child was targeted too. "I was hit here," the child told reporters while pointing to her arm.
The family, known to be CPI(M) supporters, did cast their vote. Accompanied by Central Reserve Police Force jawans, the family along with the child came to the polling station at Halishahar and proudly showed off the black ink on their fingers.
The child's mother, Deboshree Ghosh, told reporters, "When they attacked me, my family, even my baby daughter, we had said we will not vote. But once they have attacked us, now they will attack us again. So it's better to get beaten after exercising my right."
The family said it was thankful to the Election Commission for ensuring that they could vote today. The commission had made massive security arrangements to ensure peaceful polling. The administration imposed section 144 or prohibitory orders in the two districts from 6 pm on Friday to end of polling today. A huge security force deployment including 672 companies of paramilitary forces meant every booth was secured and patrols were regular leaving very little space for troublemakers to indulge in violence.
The CPI(M) has attacked the Trinamool Congress for the violence. CPI(M) leader Surjya Kanta Mishra said the family was attacked as the child's father was a Left Front functionary. "Even a three and half year old child is not spared by Trinamool goons, his father is a Left polling agent. We salute the brave mother. We stand with all our might by this indomitable family," Mr Mishra told reporters.