TMC candidates allege assault by BJP men, saffron party denies charge

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Arambagh (WB), Apr 6 (PTI) Clashes were reported from several parts of Bengal, where polling is underway in the third phase of assembly elections, with TMC candidates Sujata Mondal and Nirmal Majhi alleging that they were heckled and assaulted by BJP workers, a charge denied by the saffron camp.

Mondal, who is contesting the elections from Arambagh, said saffron party men chased her and hit her on the head, when she was out visiting polling booths in Arandi area of the constituency, after having received reports that 'voters were not being allowed to exercise their franchise'.

'My bodyguards saved my life... I came to know that BJP members were thwarting people from casting their votes in Arandi. I went there to find out what went wrong. I was assaulted, hit with bamboo sticks by saffron party men,' Mondal, estranged wife of BJP MP Saumitra Khan, said.

Her rival and BJP candidate Madhusudhan Bag, when contacted, stated that no one from his party attacked Mondal.

'It was the villagers who put up a resistance when the TMC leader tried intimidating them,' Bag said A section of villagers also claimed that Mondal had threatened them with dire consequences if they 'visit polling booths to cast their vote'.

According to police sources, one of Mondal's security guards had brought out his revolver to resist the attackers from chasing the TMC candidate.

Villagers, armed with bamboo sticks, however, drove him away, the sources said.

Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab has sought a report from poll personnel in Hooghly district in connection with the alleged attack on Mondal, an official said.

Senior TMC leader Firhad Hakim said he has apprised the Election Commission of the Arambagh episode, and was also 'in touch' with Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain.

In yet another incident of violence, TMC candidate Dr Nirmal Maji said 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.

One of his security guards sustained serious injuries when bricks were hurled at him, a police officer said, adding that he is currently undergoing treatment at a local hospital.