Re-polling in 572 booths in Bengal largely peaceful, civil society condemns violence

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KOLKATA: Barring few stray incidents of violence in some booths, the re-polling in 572 polling booths in West Bengal panchayat elections was largely peaceful on Wednesday.

Tension erupted in Raiganj in North Dinajpur district where mutilated body of a polling officer Rajkumar Roy was recovered from the rail tack. Roy went missing on May 14, on the day of polling from a booth at Itahar in the district.

According to sources, Roy’s family registered a missing complaint. His body was found near the rail track this morning and a guard of a local train informed the authority that he was run over.

The death of Roy, a local school-teacher triggered major protest. Several government officials, who are in the district on poll-duty blocked Raiganj-Kaliaganj road. Sub-Divisional Officer of Raiganj T L Sherpa who reached the spot was also assaulted by the protesters.

Reports of looting ballot boxes came from Malda district. In the polling booths of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Paragana and West Midnapore, security personnel maintained strict vigil on the re-polling process and kept these areas almost violence-free.

Meanwhile, members of civil society under the banner of Save Democracy Forum condemned the widespread violence during the polling for panachayat polls. At least 20 people died in the polling process.

Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, while addressing a worker’s meeting in BJP’s head quarter, urged the civil society members, intellectuals and members of political parties to raise voice against violence taking place in Bengal during the rural elections.

Condemning the violence ,former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said that panchayat polls have cemented the grave of democracy in West Bengal. “Elections are not war between political parties, it is battle of ideologies,” he said.

Counting of votes for the panchayat polls will be held on May 17.

Source: Economic Times