Kolkata, April 10

Four people have died as the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) opened fire after purportedly coming under attack in Sitalkuchi in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district.

Four more were injured in the incident which took place outside booth no. 126 at Jorapatki in Sitalkuchi. TMC has claimed that all those killed are party supporters.

Polling ended at 6.30 pm.

A 76.16 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 5 pm in 44 seats where polling was held for fourth phase.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) has ordered adjournment of polls at polling station number 126 in the Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency.

A spokesperson of the poll panel said the decision was based on an interim report filed by special observers.

The highest turnout of 79.73 per cent was registered in Cooch Behar district, followed by 76.2 per cent polling in Hoogly. In South 24 Parganas it was 75.49 per cent, while in Howrah it was 75.03 per cent and in Alipurduar 73.65 per cent, he said.

Polling was held from 7 am to 6.30 pm in 15,940 polling nine assembly constituencies in Howrah, 11 in South 24 Parganas, five in Alipurduar, nine in Coochbehar and ten in Hooghly district.

West Bengal had registered 84.13 per cent voting in the first, 86.11 per cent in the second and 84.61 per cent in the third phase of polling, data by the CEO’s office said.

The result of the 44 seats will be declared along with 250 others of the state on May 2.

Earlier in the day, a young BJP supporter Ananda Burman was killed in the area when alleged TMC supporters fired at voters who were standing a queue outside a polling booth.

TMC alleged that jawans of the central forces resorted to firing at TMC supporters without any provocation. BJP leader and Cooch Behar MP Nisgith Pramanik, however, held Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee responsible for the incident. He said that repeated instigation by Banerjee to her supporters against the central forces led a section of TMC supporters to attack central forces resulting in the tragedy.

The EC has asked for an action-taken report on the incident.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee questioned CISF’s claim of having fired at voters in self-defence. Banerjee said no policeman had been wounded in the incident, nor was there any video evidence to substantiate the claim, and added that her government would institute a Special Investigation Team to inquire into the circumstances of the firing.

Voting was held with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols in 44 constituencies, including nine seats in Howrah, 11 in South 24 Parganas, five in Alipurduar, nine in Cooch Behar and 10 in Hooghly, they said.

The 18-year-old voter, Ananda Barman, was allegedly gunned down by miscreants outside booth number 85 in Pathantuli area after clashes broke out between activists of the ruling TMC and the BJP.

The culprits, who are yet to be identified, managed to flee, the officials said.

The incident led to violence in the area as bombs were hurled, prompting central forces to baton-charge to bring the situation under control, police said.

Both the TMC and BJP claimed that Barman belonged to their party, but his family members said he was an activist of the saffron party.

“We have received information about a person being shot outside a polling booth in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar. We have sought a report from the micro observer,” an Election Commission official said.

The Trinamool Congress has moved the EC, complaining against the BJP of not allowing its agents to enter several booths at Coochbehar’s Natabari, Sitalkuchi, Tufanganj, Mathabhanga and Dinhata.

The BJP has denied the allegations.

In Ganguly Bagan area in Jadavpur constituency, the booth agent of CPI(M) candidate Sujan Chakraborty was reportedly attacked by a “fake voter”, who threw chilli powder at her while trying to escape, the officials said.

A central police contingent was rushed to the spot following the incident.

On Saturday evening, officials said the central government was sending 71 additional companies of the CAPF for the remainder of the elections.

Meanwhile, BJP candidate Indranil Khan accused the central forces of not taking action against bogus voters in Kasba constituency in Kolkata.

Over 1.15 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 373 candidates, including Union minister Babul Supriyo and state ministers Partha Chatterjee and Arup Biswas.

Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful voting with 789 companies of central armed police forces (CAPF) being deployed to guard 15,940 polling stations.

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