3rd phase of polling: Candidates attacked in Bengal, voting peaceful in Assam

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(Eds: Correcting typo in para 2) Kolkata/Guwahati, Apr 6 (PTI) Attack on candidates and clashes between rival political groups were reported from West Bengal while voting was by and large peaceful in Assam during the third phase of election in the two states on Tuesday.

Officials said that an estimated 82.33 per cent of 79.2 lakh electors voted in 40 seats in the final phase in Assam, while 77.68 per cent of 78.5 lakh voters in 31 constituencies cast their ballots till 5 pm, two hours before the poling ended, in West Bengal which will see five more phases.

Five candidates, including two women, were attacked allegedly by workers of rival parties in West Bengal, even as Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee alleged 'blatant misuse' of central forces to 'influence voters'.

Television grabs showed TMC nominee Sujata leader being chased in an open field by people wielding sticks and iron rods and then hitting her on the head with sticks. Her security officer was also injured.

The saffron party and the TMC accused each other of creating unrest in the constituency.

Other candidates who were allegedly attacked or heckled during the day are Papiya Adhikary and Swapan Dasgupta of the BJP and Dr Nirmal Maji and Najmul Karim of the TMC.

At least one person was injured when crude bombs were lobbed outside a polling station in the Canning Purba seat in South 24 Parganas district.

Clashes between activists of the TMC and the Indian Secular Front, which is part of the Congress-Left alliance, were reported from some seats of South 24 Parganas, and a number of people were injured.

A family member of a BJP supporter was killed in Hooghly district, when a group of people attacked her house, police said.

Though polling was largely peaceful in Assam, some stray incidents of violence took place during the polling.

A clash between two groups of people broke out 'over some issues' in the Golokgunj constituency and the police fired in the air to disperse them, an official said.

At a booth in the Bilasipara West seat, a group of people attacked security personnel over the distribution of free masks and pelted the polling station with stones, leading to lathi-charge by the police to control the situation.

The police detained two persons from a polling booth in Guwahati for allegedly distributing BJP pamphlets inside it, the official said.

The next phase of the election in West Bengal will be held on April 10. The eighth and final phase of voting will be conducted on April 29 in that state.

Votes will be counted in both Assam and West Bengal on May 2. PTI SCH/SUS PNT JRC TR ESB DG SNS NN NN NN NN