In West Bengal, polling across nine parliamentary constituencies started on Sunday morning amidst reports of electronic voting machine malfunctions and stray incidents of violence from both north and south Kolkata, with the latest being a crude bomb explosion in the Kolkata Uttar's Girish Park area.
This is the first bomb-related incident that was reported in Kolkata during the ensuing Lok Sabha election. Two other such incidents were reported in the Barasat and Basirhat constituencies in the morning.
"Extra personnel of central security forces have been deployed in the city," the report stated.
The TMC Sunday alleged that the central forces were "brutally torturing" and "intimidating" voters in West Bengal and acting as per orders of BJP leaders.
In a statement, Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O'Brien said, Bengal wants peaceful polling, which BJP doesn't.
"Today, in Bengal, central forces are brutally torturing and intimidating common citizens, especially the marginalised. Even physically handicapped persons are being
tortured. Central forces are also threatening voters 'kamal dabao nahin toh thok dega' (vote for BJP or will shoot you)," he said.
"Media has all these videos. Many are already in the public domain," he added.
On the other hand, voters in Basirhat and Jadavpur alleged that TMC workers are disrupting the election process.
A protest was held by voters outside booth 189 in Basirhat. "We are not being allowed to vote by TMC goons. We approached the police, but TMC supporters stopped us midway and started beating us," a protester stated.
BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Basirhat, Sayantan Basu was also on the spot. "Over 100 people were stopped from voting. We will take them to cast their vote," he said.
Similarly, in Jadavpur seat, there were disturbances in the polling process at booths 150 and 137.
BJP candidate from the parliamentary constituency, Anupam Hazra said, "Women TMC workers with covered faces are casting proxy votes, it is difficult to establish their identity. When we raised an objection to it, they created a ruckus at the polling station."
BJP MP candidate Anupam Hazra at polling booth number 150/137 in Jadavpur: Women TMC workers with covered faces are casting proxy votes, it is difficult to establish their identity. When we raised objection to it, they created a ruckus at the polling station. pic.twitter.com/Grf3rwoVc6
— ANI (@ANI) May 19, 2019
"TMC goons have beaten up a BJP mandal president, a driver and attacked a car. We also rescued three of our polling agents. TMC goons were going to carry out rigging at 52 booths. People are eager to vote for BJP but they are not allowing them to vote," Hazra alleged.
There were reports of violence at Raidighi Assembly under Mathurapur Lok Sabha seat and Deganga Assembly segment under Barasat Lok Sabha seat. Crude bombs were hurled at both these places on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, The Hindu reported.
In Newtown, which falls under Barasat Lok Sabha seat, crude bombs were found in two plastic containers.
BJP candidate at Diamond Harbour seat Nilanjan Ray's vehicle was attacked at Budge Budge. Ray blamed the TMC and alleged that its supporters were behind the attack. Diamond Harbour is a prestigious seat where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee is contesting on a TMC ticket.
The nine seats where polling is held during the day are Kolkata North and Kolkata South in the metropolis, Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat in North 24 Parganas and Jadavpur, Diamond Harbour, Jaynagar (SC) and Mathurapur (SC) in South 24 Parganas respectively.
The Election Commission has deployed 710 companies of central armed police forces for the last phase of elections in the state. These forces will provide 100 percent static postings at all the 17,058 polling booths where polling is held during the day.
West Bengal voted across all the seven phases of national polls, Sunday being the last one. All the earlier phases have witnessed poll violence with TMC and BJP trading blame over the issue. The counting of votes will take place on 23 May.
With inputs from agencies and 101reporters
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Updated Date: May 19, 2019 17:14:01 IST