West Bengal panchayat polls: Violence renewed alongside filing of nominations
Violent scenes were witnessed for the fifth consecutive day in parts of South 24 Parganas and Bankura districts
Violence rocked parts of West Bengal over the filing of nominations for the July 8 panchayat poll as activists of the ruling TMC and opposition parties clashed — prompting the police to use force to disperse the mob.
The violence over filing of nominations continued unabated for the fifth consecutive day in parts of South 24 Parganas and Bankura districts.
Supporters of Indian Secular Front (ISF) and TMC clashed in Bhangar area of South 24 Parganas, nearly 30 km from Kolkata. A huge police contingent was rushed to the spot, which resorted to baton charge to control the situation.
The ISF accused TMC of stopping its candidates from filing nominations, while the latter accused the former of inciting violence. Bombs were hurled and several cars were ransacked. Several activists belonging to the two parties were injured, the police said.
Similar scenes were witnessed outside the BDO office in Canning area of the district as miscreants alleged to be members of dissident groups of the TMC tried to stop the filing of nominations of the party's official candidates.
The miscreants hurled bombs and threw stones against the Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel and police had to burst tear gas shells to quell the situation, the police said.
Officials said that in the Indas area of Bankura BJP activists clashed with the TMC supporters outside the nomination filing center.
Supporters of both groups came to blows and pelted stones at each other, even as police tried to control the situation in the area, which is about 135 km from the city.
Since the beginning of nomination filing on June 9, violence has marred the nomination filing process in various parts of the state, with the opposition — BJP, Congress and CPI (M) accusing the TMC of using muscle power to stop candidates of opposition parties from filing nominations.
"The TMC goons unleashed violence since last night to stop our candidates from filing nominations," ISF leader and Bhangore MLA Nawsad Siddique said. "If this situation continues, then free and fair panchayat elections will not be held because people will not come out due to fear. We have not been invited to the all-party meeting called by the State Election Commission. I have spoken to my lawyer and we will take up this issue," he added.
TMC state spokesperson Kunal Ghosh dismissed the allegations and dubbed them as "baseless". "The ISF is trying to unleash violence in the area,".
"The way bombs are being hurled at BJP workers, it seems that we are in Russia or Ukraine," said BJP leader Agnimitra Paul.
The ruling party also asked the opposition parties to release its entire candidates list and said that if needed, it will help them to file their nominations.
The state's three-tier panchayat election encompassing a significant electorate of approximately 5.67 crores, will exercise their franchise to choose representatives for nearly 74,000 seats in zilla parishads, panchayat samiti and gram panchayats.
The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday ordered the requisition and deployment of central forces for the rural poll but refused to consider the plea for extending the time for filing of nominations and left it to the discretion of the State Election Commission.
With inputs from agencies