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Sporadic violence in final round of Bengal panchayat polls

Sporadic violence in final round of Bengal panchayat polls

Kolkata: Sporadic violence was reported in the first four hours in four northern West Bengal districts that saw between 23 and 26 percent voters cast their franchise in the fifth and final phase of the panchayat polls.

Till 11 a.m., the polling percentage was 26.48 in Cooch Behar, 26.5 in South Dinajpur, 23.04 in Jalpaiguri and 24.48 in North Dinajpur district, a State Election Commission official here said.

Police fired two rounds in the air at a booth in Raiganj of North Dinajpur following clashes between Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) activists. The Congress accused the CPI-M of snatching a ballot box, but the Marxists denied.

Four members of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, a constituent of CPI-M led opposition Left Front, were reportedly injured in a clash with the activists of the ruling Trinamool Congress at Mainaguri of Jalpaiguri district.

There were allegations of opposition polling agents being driven out, booth capturing, proxy voting and other electoral malpractices from all the districts.

Overall, the region is expected to see a triangular contest involving the Congress, the Left Front and the Trinamool.

About 64 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise at 7,961 polling booths in the four districts. About 28,591 candidates are in fray for 7,342 zilla parishad, panchayat samiti and gram panchayat seats in the three-tier polls.

Violence has claimed at least 23 people since the start of the polls July 11. The State Election Commission has requisitioned 53 companies of central armed police forces besides personnel from the state police force for the final round.

The ballots would be counted July 29.

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