Violence Over Panchayat Poll Nomination Continues In Bengal

Clashes were reported in parts of South 24 Parganas and Bankura districts prompting the police to use force to disperse the mobs.

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Violence continued to rock parts of West Bengal over the filing of nominations for the July 8 panchayat poll for the fifth consecutive day on Wednesday, as activists of the ruling TMC and opposition parties.

 Clashes were reported in parts of South 24 Parganas and Bankura districts prompting the police to use force to disperse the mobs.

Supporters of Indian Secular Front (ISF) and TMC clashed in Bhangore area of South 24 Parganas, nearly 30 km from Kolkata. A huge police contingent was rushed to the spot, which resorted to baton charge to control the situation.

 Bombs were hurled and several cars were ransacked as supporters of the two parties tried to stop each other from filing nominations. Several activists belonging to the two parties were injured, the police said.

  ISF MLA from Bhangore, Naushad Siddique, went to meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the afternoon to brief her about the situation in his constituency.

 The legislator, however, could not meet Banerjee due to her "pressing engagements" and left.

 "I had come here to meet Banerjee at the state secretariat and inform her about the situation in Bhangore where opposition candidates were threatened and stopped from filing nominations. But since she was busy, I could not meet her," Siddique told reporters.

 A senior official at the Chief Minister's Office told PTI that the meeting could not be held because of Banerjee's pressing engagements.

 When contacted, a senior officer of Bhangore Police Station said that they were yet to arrest anyone for the clashes there.
     Similar scenes were witnessed in Canning area of the district, as miscreants alleged to be members of dissident groups of the TMC tried to stop filing of nomination of the party's official candidates.

 The miscreants hurled bombs and threw stones towards the Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel and the police fired tear gas shells to quell the situation.

The SDPO of Canning was injured in the attack as police detained around seven people for their alleged involvement in violence, an official said.

  Officials said that in Bankura’ Indas area, BJP activists clashed with the TMC supporters outside the nomination filing centre Supporters of both groups came to blows and pelted each other with stones, even as police tried to control the situation in the area, which is about 135 km from the city.

Police later detained at least three persons from Indas in connection with the violence in Bankura district, he added.

Since the beginning of nomination filing on June 9, violence has marred the nomination filing process in various parts of the state, with the opposition – BJP, Congress and CPI (M) accusing the TMC of using muscle power to stop candidates of opposition parties from filing nominations.

  "The TMC goons unleashed violence since last night to stop our candidates from filing nominations," ISF leader and Bhangore MLA Naushad Siddique said.

 TMC state spokesperson Kunal Ghosh dismissed the allegations and claimed: "The ISF is trying to unleash violence in the area."

 The TMC also asked the opposition parties to release its candidates' list and said that if needed, it will help them to file their nominations.

 The state's three-tier panchayat election encompassing a significant electorate of approximately 5.67 crores, will exercise their franchise to choose representatives for nearly 74,000 seats in zilla parishads, panchayat samiti, and gram panchayats.

 The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday ordered the requisition and deployment of central forces for the rural poll but refused to consider the plea for extending the time for filing of nominations and left it to the discretion of the State Election Commission.