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Large voter turnout in Assam, Bengal in 2nd phase

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By PTI Updated: Apr 02, 2021 1:06 am
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Kolkata/Guwahati, April 1 (PTI): Sporadic violence took place in West Bengal while Assam witnessed peaceful polling, barring a firing incident, as people in large numbers exercised their franchise in both states in the second phase of the assembly elections on Thursday.

Officials said that over 80.43 per cent voter turnout was reported from 30 constituencies in West Bengal up to 5 pm, while Assam registered 77.21 per cent voting in 39 seats till 6 pm.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused central forces deployed in Nandigram constituency, where she is locked in a fight with her former lieutenant, Suvendu Adhikari, now with the BJP, of helping the saffron party under instructions from Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Allegations of booth capturing and partisan behaviour prompted the Election Commission to seek a report on an incident in Boyal village where the feisty Trinamool Congress boss stayed put for over two hours outside a polling booth following a siege of sorts by BJP supporters.

Suvendu Adhikari’s car was pelted with stones at two places while he was visiting booths in the constituency. BJP candidate of the Keshpur seat, Tanmay Ghosh’s vehicle was also vandalised allegedly by TMC workers, officials said.

Despite the violence and accusations of vote fraud in Nandigram, Banerjee said that she was confident of victory from the constituency where she had a decade-and-half ago led a farmers’ movement against a chemical hub planned by the then Left Front government.

Though tight security measures have been taken in 30 assembly segments spread across Purba and Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and South 24 Parganas districts, workers of the TMC and the BJP fought pitched battles at several places in the four districts.

The third phase of the election will be held on April 6 in both Assam and West Bengal.

While that will be the final phase for Assam, West Bengal will see five more phases and the last one will be conducted on April 29. Votes will be counted on May 2.

Three injured in firing

At least three persons were injured in firing by the body guards of Assam Assembly Deputy Speaker Aminul Haque Laskar on Thursday after clashes broke out between supporters of BJP and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).

Cachar district Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli confirmed “an incident” and said the administration is waiting for a detailed report from the polling station at 463 Madhya Dhanehori LP School of Sonai constituency.

“They are all non-critical,” she said when asked how many people were injured and their health status.

When contacted the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Assam, Joint Chief Electoral Officer Rahul Chandra Das said they will be able to comment only after a detailed report is received from the Returning Officer.

A huge contingent of police and central armed police forces have been deployed, while the district SP has rushed to the spot, officials said.

According to the Dhanehori gaon panchayat president Lutfa Begum, public protested when Laskar entered the booth in late afternoon.

“People alleged that he has tried to rig the voting. Many people rushed to the spot and confined Laskar in one room. Due to this the situation became tens. A clash broke out between supporters of Laskar and his opponent,” she added.

Sitting MLA Laskar is having a direct contest with Karim Uddin Barbhuiya of the AIUDF at Sonai, where voting took place on Thursday in the second phase.

“When a big crowd gathered and they tried to manhandle Laskar, his PSOs fired. In this, at least three persons were injured and they were admitted in hospitals,” Begum said.

The wounded have been identified as Shamim Ahmed Choudhury, Baharul Islam and Kader Hussain, she added.

Repeated calls made to IG (Law and Order)-cum-State Police Nodal Officer Deepak Kr Kedia and Cachar SP Bhanwar Lal Meena were disconnected.

An estimated 72 per cent polling took place in Sonai, while Cachar saw a turnout of 72.28 per cent.

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By PTI Updated: Apr 02, 2021 1:06:23 am