Third Phase of Panchayat Elections in West Bengal:
All Round Attack on Democracy
The third phase of the panchayat elections in West Bengal was once again marred by violent attacks, booth capturing and intimidation of voters by the ruling party. North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Howrah went to the polls on July 19.
Till afternoon, as the information poured in, more than 850 booths were fully rigged: 402 in South 24 Parganas, 346 in North 24 Parganas and 132 in Howrah. The figure is likely to increase as reports reach from far flung areas.
Veteran CPI (M) activist Mojar Bux Mondal, was killed in Tengatengi village in the Bodhai gram panchayat area of North 24 Parganas.
Like in the earlier two phases, this time too there was no trace of central paramilitary forces. They stay put in the camps. It is amply clear that the state administration deliberately did not deploy these forces in order to allow a free run by the hoodlums.
In North 24 Parganas, TMC gangs roamed freely in large areas and prevented voters from exercising their right. In Amdanga, Barasat 2, Rajarhat, Mahisbathan, Barrackpore 2 and Haroa, CPI(M) polling agents were forcibly evicted out of booths and armed gangs cordoned off the localities.
In several areas, people were not allowed to vote freely. Hundreds of Trinamool Congress goons came from East Midnapore district and roamed on the roads of North and South 24-Pargans. In many areas, TMC activists started the terror campaign from the night of July 18 itself. Bombs were hurled and CPI(M) supporters were attacked. So much so that candidates belonging to the opposition were not were not allowed to vote in many places.
In response to this terror, thousands of Left activists came out in the streets in the urban areas of the district. They blocked main roads and the rail track in Naihati, Shyamnagar, Sodepur, Dum Dum and Baguihati. The TMC gangs did not spare these protesters either. The protesters were attacked causing injuries to many Left activists. TMC goons also attacked and ransacked the CPI(M) Barrackpore Zonal Office.
What democracy means to the TMC was reflected in the happenings in areas like Bhangar and Canning of South 24 Parganas. CPI(M) agents were not allowed inside almost all booths. TMC activists stamped ballots unrestrained with terrorized polling officers remaining mute spectators. In many areas of the district TMC gangs attacked polling booths and chased voters away. In Mandir Bazar, Bishnupur and Magrahat many booths remained inaccessible to voters who were forced to stay indoors.
However, ruling party gangs faced resistance in many areas of South 24 Parganas, their so-called ‘stronghold’.
In Howrah, the polls were turned into farce in Udaynarayanpur and Panchla. In both areas, TMC armed gangs hurled bombs in many booths to terrorise people. In Udaynarayanpur alone, nearly 80 booths were fully rigged. Large scale booth capturing took place in Amta, Bagnan, Domjur and Bally-Jagacha. Many CPI(M) agents protesting against the rigging were attacked and suffered injuries.
Biman Basu, Left Front Chairman alleged that the rural people of West Bengal are being robbed of their democratic rights. He observed that what took place on July 19 reminded of the incidents of 1972, when the assembly elections throughout the state were completely rigged.
Opposition leader, Suryakanta Misra, was categorical that the Chief Minister herself was responsible for this unprecedented attack on democracy. Misra said that the Chief Minister had initiated the process by threatening the opposition and Election Commission. It is now being followed up by ruling party hoodlums throughout the state.
July 19, 2013