Violence during the West Bengal panchayat elections killed at least 13

West Bengal panchayat elections took place amid violence, which killed at least 13 on Saturday, July 8th, in different parts of the state.

West Bengal panchayat elections

At least 13 people have been killed since midnight on Saturday, July 8th, as rural West Bengal votes for the crucial three-tier panchayat polls, which serve as a litmus test for the 2024 parliamentary elections and could reshape the state’s political landscape. Despite prior warnings, the West Bengal panchayat elections were marred in violence, for which the Opposition and the ruling camp accused each other.

Voting for West Bengal panchayat elections began at 7am on Saturday, and within four hours of polling, five people were killed. Three of them were ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers Babar Ali, Sabiruddin Sk and Malek Sheik, killed in different instances in Malda and Murshidabad districts respectively. 

Sheikh was killed in Jisharattola in the Manikchak police station area of Malda district. The TMC claimed he was the brother of a party leader and accused the Indian National Congress (INC) supporters of attacking him.

TMC worker Ali was killed in Murshidabad’s Kapasdanga area in an incident of overnight violence. Sabiruddin was also from Murshidabad’s Khargram area and was killed in an incident of poll-related violence. The TMC has accused the INC and its ally the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] supporters of attacking and killing the duo in Murshidabad.

The TMC’s principal opponent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that one of its poll workers in Cooch Behar, named Madhab Biswas, was allegedly killed by the ruling party’s goons in the Falimari gram panchayat area. 

The BJP alleged that the TMC supporters prevented Biswas from entering the polling booth in the morning. The argument between the two sides escalated and Biswas was fatally attacked by the TMC workers. The TMC has denied the allegations.

In Purba Bardhaman district’s Ausgram, CPI(M) worker Rajibul Islam suffered grievous injuries on Friday evening allegedly due to pre-poll violence. Islam succumbed to his injuries on Saturday morning.

The TMC alleged that its booth committee member in Tufanganj 2 Panchayat Samiti in Cooch Behar, Ganesh Sarkar, was killed in an attack by the BJP supporters. It also alleged that one of its workers was killed in Nadia district’s Chapra. 

The Indian Secular Front (ISF), an ally of the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the INC, alleged that its worker Saidul Seikh (48) was killed during a clash with the TMC in Nadia district’s Haringhata area.

The supporter of an independent candidate was injured in the Kadambagachi area in North 24 Parganas district. Superintendent of Police Bhaskar Mukherjee had earlier informed the press that 41-year-old Abdullah Ali was killed, but later the superintendent of Barasat Hospital informed that Ali is critically injured and is on ventilator support. 

A polling booth at Baravita Primary School in Cooch Behar district’s Sitai was reportedly vandalised by miscreants who also set ablaze the ballot papers. Both TMC and the BJP have accused each other of abetting violence in the district.

Although the Opposition has blamed the TMC for the violence during the West Bengal panchayat elections, the ruling party has claimed that over 27 people have lost their lives since the nomination process began on June 9th, and 17 of them were its workers. 

The TMC asked why would its own workers get killed if the Opposition’s claim of it instigating violence during the West Bengal panchayat elections was true.

West Bengal panchayat elections will elect representatives to 73,887 seats belonging to 3,342 gram panchayats, 341 panchayat samitis and 22 zilla parishads. The results of the elections will be declared on Tuesday, July 11th.

Ritika passionately reports on current affairs, conflicts and politics. Ritika pursued BA in Mass Communication from St Xavier’s University, Kolkata. She loves watching films or reading when she isn't chasing the news.

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