Ground Report: Bengal Phase 3 Elections Concludes, Sees 78% Voter Turnout and 33 Episodes of Brutality
By: Sashwata Saha
As the third phase of the hotly contested West Bengal Assembly elections - 31 seats spread over South 24 Parganas (16), Hooghly (8) and Howrah (7) - closes, the Election Commission recorded a voter turnout of 77.67% was recorded till 6:00 pm on Tuesday.
Hooghly once again recorded the highest turnout till 6:00 pm with 79.29%, while Howrah and South 24 Parganas registered 77.91% and 76.74% respectively, according to the Election Commission of India (ECI).
The day was fraught with incidents of violence with the highlight being the alleged assault of a minor girl by a CRPF jawan and attack.
TMC MP Derek O’ Brian, at a press conference from the party headquarters, alleged that the crime took place in Tarakeswar in Hooghly district. Tarakeshwar is among the constituencies that had gone to the polls earlier today. The jawan was apparently caught “red-handed” by the locals, who proceeded to beat him up. Trinamool has written to the Chief Election Officer regarding the same. An FIR has been filed at the Tarakeshwar police station.
Other episodes of brutality include an assault on a polling officer by BJP workers. Tapan Sarkar, the deputed officer for the Uluberia area of Howrah district had taken an electronic voting machine with him to his Trinamool candidate relative’s house. He was suspended by the Election Commission effective immediately.
Meanwhile, at Hooghly district’s Goghat constituency the BJP alleged that the mother of one of its party workers was killed by Trinamool goons, at around 6 am today. Local polling agents of the saffron party told Newshound India Foundation that Piru Adak, a resident of the Bandanganj area who had recently come over from TMC, was attacked early in the morning at his home. When his mother had tried to intervene, she was beaten to death. The BJP have registered an FIR and an investigation is underway.
Later in the day, Sujata Mondal Khan, a TMC candidate from the Arambagh Assembly seat in Hooghly, was allegedly assaulted by BJP workers. Khan, the estranged wife of BJP MP Soumitra Khan said that she sustained head injuries during the assault. A video of the incident has since gone viral on social media and played on local news channels.
Another TMC candidate Najmul Khan was allegedly assaulted by BJP cadres in the Khanakul area. Khan said to Newshound India Foundation, “They attacked me when I reached the polling booth at Vaishnadevi High School. I had come upon receiving information that BJP workers were obstructing voters there.”
A total of 33 incidents of violence were recorded by various media organisations - both local and national - despite the deployment of 832 companies in the state.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has alleged that the central forces were being used 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.
There were 205 candidates in the fray in this round of polling. However, when it comes to women representation, there are only 13 women candidates contesting in this phase, a mere 6%. Among these candidates, the TMC and BJP have fielded 31 candidates each; 13 each by the BSP and CPI(M); seven by the Congress; two by the All India Forward Bloc; one by the Revolutionary Socialist Party; 68 independents; and 39 from other parties.
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