Kolkata: They were just civic polls but unprecedented trouble erupted at Salt Lake and Asansol in West Bengal today with the Trinamool Congress allegedly deploying outsiders to capture booths.
The Trinamool denies this but voters were thrashed, fired upon and bombs hurled as well. The Left has called a 12-hour bandh on Monday in Salt Lake. The BJP went on a dharna at the office of the state election commissioner.
At least 10 media persons were also beaten up at Salt Lake. Some of them are in hospital.
Chaos started early at a polling booth in AB block in Salt Lake, an upscale township. Outsiders barged into the polling booth - a senior citizen was among a dozen assaulted.
In BD Block, there was blood on the streets, half a dozen bombs were hurled, and at least one person was injured. In clashes there, a former Trinamool councillor, now an independent candidate, Anupam Dutta, was injured.
"This is my prize for serving the Trinamool. They hurled at least eight bombs, beat me up, even slashed my arm," he said.
A senior citizen who was assaulted, PK Sen, said, "I tried to save a young man who was being beaten. They started cursing. I said stop it. They pushed me out and beat me up. I fell."
Off FD block, hundreds of Trinamool workers, all outsiders, attacked the media trying to take their pictures. The police marched in, Trinamool MLA Sujit Bose had a chat with an officer and the police left.
"They are all local residents," said Mr Bose when asked who the men were, clearly under his command.
Ms Romola Chakraborty, CPM candidate, said, "They are all Trinamool men. Even Paresh Pal is here." Mr Pal is a Trinamool MLA whose constituency is not part of Salt Lake.
Asansol was no better. Bombs were hurled, voters fired at, three persons injured and lathicharges were order of the day.
Back in Kolkata, even late afternoon, there was firing by criminals at Koikhali near the airport, a child was injured, a motorcycle set on fire and violent clashes erupted between the Trinamool and the Congress.