Sporadic violence reported, candidates attacked in third phase of Bengal polls

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(Eds: With fresh inputs) Kolkata, Apr 6 (PTI) Sporadic violence was reported and some candidates were attacked during the third phase of West Bengal assembly elections on Tuesday, even as 68.04 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 3 pm, officials said.

Voting is underway with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols in 16 seats in South 24 Parganas district (part II), seven in Howrah (part I) and eight in Hooghly (part I), they said.

'Voter turnout of 68.04 per cent was recorded till 3 pm in 31 seats,' an EC official said.

Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee alleged 'blatant misuse' of central forces to 'influence voters'.

'The blatant misuse of Central forces continues unabated. Despite us repeatedly raising this issue, @ECISVEEP continues to be a mute spectator, while men in uniform are being misused at several places to openly intimidate TMC voters & influence many to vote in favour of one party,' she tweeted.

BJP MP Soumitra Khan's estranged wife and TMC candidate Sujata Mondal Khan was allegedly assaulted by the BJP cadre in Arambag, a charge denied by the saffron party.

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

The TMC claimed that BJP 'goons' didn't allow the party's polling agents inside the polling stations.

The BJP, on the other hand, accused Sujata of entering the area with TMC 'goons' and creating unrest by threatening people against going to the polling stations to cast their votes.

The CEO sought a report from the DEO over the incident, sources said.

TMC candidate Dr Nirmal Maji claimed that he was 'heckled' by BJP supporters and his vehicle vandalised when he tried visiting a booth in Uluberia (Uttar) constituency.

Majhi was made to wear a helmet and escorted out of the troubled area by the police.

In Khanakul, TMC candidate Najmul Karim was allegedly beaten up by the BJP activists and slogans were raised against him. Later, central forces rescued him from the area.

In Falta seat, a BJP candidate's vehicle was attacked.

In Bishnupur constituency, a man was seen threatening a woman against going to cast her vote. She, however, was seen not yielding to the pressure.

The ECI later sought a report from local authorities, and the accused man was arrested.

At least one person was injured when crude bombs were lobbed outside a polling station in Canning Purba assembly seat. TMC candidate Shaukat Mollah accused Abbas Siddiqui-led Indian Secular Front (ISF) for the attack, a charge denied by the party.

TMC turncoat and BJP candidate from Diamond Harbour seat, Dipak Haldar, alleged that his former party is not allowing voters to come to polling stations.

In the Dhanekhali seat, state minister Asima Patra accused the central forces of high-handedness and alleged that voters were being stopped by BJP 'goons' from going to polling stations, an allegation dismissed by the saffron party.

A BJP supporter's family member was allegedly killed in Hooghly district, hours before polling in the area, police said.

Madhabi Adak succumbed to her injuries sustained while protecting her son from a few men who barged into their house, they said.

Adak's family accused the TMC, a charge denied by the ruling party behind the incident.

Over 78.5 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 205 candidates, including BJP leader Swapan Dasgupta, state minister Ashima Patra and CPI(M) leader Kanti Ganguly.

The Election Commission has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in all the constituencies, declaring them as 'sensitive'. PTI SCH PNT ACD ACD