Terror & Mayhem Rule the Roost
An unprecedented atmosphere of terror prevailed during the second phase of the panchayat elections in West Bengal held on July 15. Booth capturing and rigging were the order of the day as Burdwan, East Midnapore and Hooghly districts went to polls. A large numbers of seats in these three districts had already been snatched away by ruling TMC as Left Front candidates were not allowed to file nominations or were forced to withdraw in the face of brutal terror. In the rest of the seats, TMC gangs wrecked havoc by widespread booth capturing, not witnessed in the state for decades.
In Burdwan, the TMC brought in gangs from outside the district, who infiltrated into the district during the last two days. Right from the morning the TMC started a full fledged attack on booths in almost all areas. In Jamuria, Sheikh Hasmat, the husband of a CPI(M) candidate, Monowara Bibi, was killed in a bomb attack at Madhudanga gram Panchayat. Engraged villagers chased the miscreants and one of them, Rajkuma Kora, was beaten to death.
In Rayna, widespread attacks took place. Many booths were captured. When CPI(M) district council candidate Suprava Karfa complained, she was arrested. TMC gangs captured many booths in Galsi, Aushgram, Kalna, Khandaghosh, Mangalkote, Ketugram. By afternoon, primary estimates said more than 700 booths were fully or partially rigged and captured in Burdwan district alone.
In East Midnapore, elections turned into sham in many areas. In Nandigram, TMC activists gheraoed booths and obstructed voters from reaching booths in many areas. In some areas, the independents, mostly TMC rebels were attacked. In Sonachura, in Nandigram, ballot boxes were brought outside the booth and polling took place in open. This was done to prevent any voter from casting votes against the TMC. CPI(M) and Left Front agents were chased out of polling booths in Egra, Ramnagar, Patashpur, Panshkura and Moyna. In Kanthi, home to father-son (Adhikaris) MPs duo of TMC, villagers were attacked to instill fear among villagers and prevent them from going to polling booths. Central forces were kept idle while the TMC gangs roamed freely. Hundreds of booths witnessed looting of votes, openly. The state police forces were not issued any order to obstruct TMC gangs. They remained mute spectators.
In Hooghly, the TMC had already ‘won’ in all three tiers in 362 booths ‘without contest’. Here no votes were cast. In Dhanekhali, Polba, Tarakeswhar, Arambagh and Haripal, TMC armed gangs created terror with the help of the police. They stormed booths, beat up CPI(M) polling agents, and stamped ballots in one booth after another. In Arambagh alone, 136 booths were captured. In Salepur in the same subdivision women came out of their homes and took on the miscreants after the CPI(M) polling agent was kidnapped. CPI(M) candidates were attacked in many places. In Uttarpara, CPI(M) panchayat samiti candidate Shuvra Chatterjee was attacked and she suffered head injury. Piyush Dhar, another candidate in Debanandapur was grievously attacked. In Nabagram area, a gang of bikers went from booth to booth chasing away voters.
Nearly 1500 booths have been captured in the three districts that went to the polls on July 15. The CPI(M) has demanded repoll in 890 booths of Burdwan alone.
July 15, 2013