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Sporadic incidents of violence mar third phase polls in West Bengal

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TMC and BJP leaders clash outside a polling station during voting for the 3rd phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Murshidabad, Tuesday, May 7, 2024

TMC and BJP leaders clash outside a polling station during voting for the 3rd phase of Lok Sabha elections, in Murshidabad, Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Kolkata: Sporadic incidents of violence marred the third phase of Lok Sabha polls in the four constituencies in West Bengal as TMC, BJP and Congress workers clashed with each other in various parts of Murshidabad and Jangipur seats.

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The TMC, the BJP, and the Congress-CPI(M) alliance lodged separate complaints related to poll violence, voter intimidation, and assaults on poll agents in the first few hours of polling, sources from the parties said.

The EC received 182 complaints by 9 am, most of which were from Murshidabad and Jangipur constituencies.

According to officials, around 32.82 per cent polling was reported till 11 am, with Jangipur recording the highest turnout of 33.81 per cent, followed by Maldaha Dakshin (33.09), Murshidabad (32.72) and Maldaha Uttar (31.73).

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Additionally, 29.39 per cent of voting was recorded in the assembly bypoll in Murshidabad's Bhagawangola.

All four seats are minority-dominated, with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) holding Murshidabad and Jangipur, while the BJP has Maldaha North, and Maldaha South is represented by the Congress.

In the Murshidabad seat, Left-Congress combine candidate Mohammed Salim claimed that he caught hold of a "fake booth agent" in the Rabinagar area of the constituency.

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In the Rabinagar area, Salim was greeted with "go back" slogans as he tried to enter a booth following allegations of CPI(M) booth agents being heckled by alleged TMC goons.

"The TMC has unleashed a reign of terror in the entire constituency. Strict action must be taken by the Election Commission," Salim said.

Salim was seen shuttling from one booth to another as allegations of intimidation of voters surfaced in the area.

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"The CPI (M) along with Congress goons are trying to intimidate the voters. There has been resistance from the masses," TMC spokesperson Riju Dutta said.

In the Karimpur area of the seat, clashes were reported between the TMC and the CPI(M) supporters outside a few booths. Clashes were reported between the TMC and the Congress activists from the Domkol area.

In the Jangipur area, BJP candidate Dhanajoy Ghosh faced protests by TMC cadres as he tried to enter some of the booths in the constituency.

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"If such hooliganism continues, there could be a rerun of Cooch Behar's Sitalkuchi incident," he said.

Ghosh was referring to the Sitalkuchi firing incident in the 2021 assembly polls when four persons were killed after central forces opened fire to control a mob.

The TMC has complained to the EC against Ghosh, accusing him of intimidating voters. "@BJP4India's thirst for violence never ends! Their MP candidate from Jangipur, Dhananjay Ghosh, stormed in with CRPF thugs and harassed our Block President. @ECISVEEP, when will you grow a spine and stand against this hooliganism?" the AITC posted on X.

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In the Englishbazar area, the BJP accused the TMC of beating up their booth agents, similar complaints were lodged by the Congress against the state's ruling party from the Ratua area in Malda.

In some areas, TMC workers staged a protest following allegations that central forces were assisting BJP workers in intimidating voters at some booths in the Maldaha North constituency.

Altogether 73,37,651 voters, including 36,12,395 women and 154 belonging to the third gender, are eligible to exercise their franchise. Voting began at 7 am and will continue until 6 pm.

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