Violence claims one life, 40 per cent votes polled in Bengal

Kolkata: Violence on Thursday claimed the life of a CPI-M polling agent in Murshidabad district during the third phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal in which a voter turnout of 40 per cent was recorded in the first four hours of polling in 62 seats.

In Domkal Assembly seat of Murshidabad, the body of a 35-year-old CPI(M) polling agent was found lying outside a polling booth at Shibapara area.

CPI(M) candidate and former minister Anisur Rahman said the man identified as Tahidur Islam was killed when bombs were hurled outside the polling booth.

District SP C Sudhakar, however, said the murder was not related to polls.

Left parties blamed the killing on the ruling Trinamool Congress alleging that they have unleashed a reign of terror to intimidate voters.

The Trinamool Congress said the death was a fallout of infighting between the alliance partners of Congress and Left Front.

In Beleghata Assembly seat in Kolkata, there were complaints of voter intimidation outside poll booths after which seven people were detained by the police, officials said.

Meanwhile, the highest voter turnout of 42.99 per cent was recorded in the 22 seats of Murshidabad district while the lowest of 32.71 per cent was recorded in the metropolis till 11 AM.

The voting percentage in 17 seats of Nadia district was 40.78 while in 16 seats of Burdwan it was 37.33. The overall average was 39.76 per cent.

Amidst a tight security cover by one lakh security personnel deployed to look after law and order, polling which began at 7 AM in 16,461 polling stations will go on till 6 PM.

Over 1.37 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in this phase to elect their legislators from among 418 candidates, including 34 women, spread over Murshidabad, Burdwan and Nadia districts and north Kolkata.

Key candidates in this phase include Trinamool ministers Shashi Panja and Sadhan Pande, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha, five-time Congress MLA Md Sohrab, CPI-M MLA Anisur Rahman and retired IPS officer Nazrul Islam.

The Election Commission has identified 3,401 hamlets in this phase as vulnerable.

Reports from Burdwan district said four persons were injured in separate incidents in polling booths under Ketugram Assembly constituency.

The ear of a CPI(M) worker identified as Seltu Sheikh was slashed and leg of another CPI(M) man was fractured after a scuffle in front of booth no 78.

Both the injured were rushed to Ketugram Block Primary Health Centre.

District Returning officer Soumitra Mohan said four persons have been arrested in this connection. In another incident, two CPI(M) workers were injured at booth no 48 under Ketugram Assembly seat when bombs were reportedly hurled at them.

In a separate incident, Central Forces obstructed Trinamool Congress candidate in Purbasthali Uttar seat of the district, Tapan Chattopadhyay, from entering booth no. 20 due to a "communication gap".

He was later allowed to enter after he showed valid papers. Polling was delayed for some time at a polling booth under ward no 3 of Katwa Assembly seat after two EVM machines were replaced when it started malfunctioning, officials said.

Two persons who were trying to vote for a second time were detained from a polling station in Kalyani constituency of Nadia district, police said.

The two were waiting in queues in separate booths of Adarsha Shikkhyatan school in Gayespur area.They were picked up by central force personnel as ink marks were visible on their fingers, police said.

CPI(M) district secretary Sumit Dey alleged that party supporters were obstructed by Trinamool Congress activists and agents were beaten up in some places of Gayespur in Nadia district.

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