Sporadic violence marks first phase of polls

Kolkata, Mar 27 (PTI): Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from some areas that are voting in the first phase of the assembly elections in West Bengal on Saturday, even as the overall poll situation was peaceful with 72.14 per cent voter turnout recorded in Assam and 79.79 per cent in West Bengal till 6 pm, in the first phase of polling, says the Election Commission of India.
Elections are being held in 30 seats, most of which are in the once-Naxal-affected Jungle Mahal region, across five districts amid tight security, they said. “Till 6 pm the voter turnout is 79 per cent. It has been by and large peaceful so far,” a senior Election Commission (EC) official said. The elections are being held following COVID-19 guidelines in all nine seats in Purulia, four in Bankura, four in Jhargram and six in Paschim Medinipur, besides the seven seats in high-stakes Purba Medinipur. The seats in Purba Medinipur recorded the highest turnout at 38.89 per cent, followed by Jhargram (37.07 per cent) and Bankura (36.38 per cent).
The seats in Paschim Medinipur recorded 35.50 per cent turnout, while those in Purulia saw 33.58 per cent voters exercising their franchise.
In the Kanthi Dakshin seat in Purba Medinipur, voters staged a protest outside a polling booth over EVM malfunctioning.
The protesters blocked a road outside the polling station at Majna, claiming that even if they voted for one party, the VVPAT slip showed another party.
A contingent of central forces was deployed to control the situation, an EC official said, adding that the VVPAT machine was replaced.
BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s younger brother Soumendu was attacked in Kanthi by TMC supporters, his party alleged.
His car was vandalised and his was driver injured in the attack.
In the Salboni seat of Paschim Medinipur, CPI(M) candidate Susanta Ghosh was heckled and stones were hurled at his car allegedly by TMC supporters, police said.
As soon as he reached Salboni Bazar, some TMC supporters gheraoed and heckled him, following which they also attacked his car, eyewitnesses said.
Police personnel posted in the area rescued and escorted him to safety.
“This is an attack on democracy. This is jungle raj going on,” said Ghosh, a former minister in the Left Front government.

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