Violence erupted in West Bengal on Saturday after CISF personnel allegedly opened fire after being attacked by locals. Four persons were killed during the incident, police said.
The incident occurred in West Bengal's Cooch Behar district, where polling is underway for the fourth phase of the Assembly elections.
According to the police, the CISF personnel opened fire after locals attempted to “snatch their rifles”.
"A scuffle (between locals and CISF personnel) took place and the locals gheraoed them and attempted to snatch their rifles, following which the central forces opened fire. Further details are awaited," a senior police official said.
In another unrelated incident, a first-time voter was shot dead by unidentified persons outside a polling booth in Cooch Behar district, police said.
The deceased voter has been identified as one Anand Burman. According to the police, he was dragged from booth number 85, located in Pathantuli area in Sitalkuchi by a group of unidentified people and shot dead.
Soon after the incident, the Trinamool Congress and the BJP accused each other for the violence. While the TMC has alleged that the unidentified men were associated with the BJP, the saffron party has claimed that the TMC tried manipulating voting at the booth by planting the victim, there.
Voting for the fourth phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections begun at 7 am on Saturday. Polling is being held in 44 constituencies and a total of 1,15,81,022 voters will decide the fate of 373 candidates including that of many heavyweights such as Union minister Babul Supriyo and state cabinet ministers Partha Chatterjee and Arup Biswas.
The Assembly elections, which began on March 27, are being held in eight phases, with the last phase of polling scheduled to take place on April 29. Counting of votes is scheduled to occur on May 2.
Saturday’s incident triggered a clash between TMC and BJP supporters and several people were injured as bombs were lobbed outside the booth. Central forces had to resort to lathi-charge to bring the situation under control, he said.
"We have received information that a person was shot dead outside a polling booth in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district. We have sought a report from the micro-observer as soon as possible and the returning officer was called up to know about the situation," an election official said.
Police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been deployed in the area.
Incidentally, BJP state chief and MP Dilip Ghosh had come under attack from 'TMC workers' in Sitalkuchi area a few days back.
TMC leader and Natabari constituency candidate Rabindra Nath Ghosh alleged that the BJP workers were behind the killing.
"BJP goons are behind the killing. They were creating a nuisance here for several days as they are losing the elections and now, they are killing people," he told PTI.
Dismissing Ghosh's claim, Sitalkuchi's BJP candidate Baren Chandra Barman said that the deceased person was the party's polling agent at the booth and TMC activists were behind the murder.
"He was our polling agent and was going to the booth when TMC goons shot him dead. Rabindra Nath Ghosh's claim is a total lie. We have informed the SP and the ECI about the incident, demanding immediate arrest of the culprits," Barman said.
He also claimed that police or central forces were not present near the booth when the killing took place.
The Election Commission has deployed 789 companies of central armed police force (CAPF) in 15,940 polling stations spread across the 44 constituencies, where elections are being held. Each company of CAPF comprises 100 personnel including officers.
(With PTI inputs)
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