Central forces open fire, 1 dead

Voting

Political clashes left three dead while the police said an SUCI worker was killed when central forces opened fire at irate villagers during the third phase of panchayat elections Friday that saw a turnout of around 70 per cent.

The villagers were reportedly protesting against slow queues at a polling booth at Joynagar in North 24-Parganas when the central forces resorted to lathicharge and fired three rounds. A bullet hit Amol Haldar (25) on his head, said a senior police official. Haldar is said to have been taken to a local hospital where he died.

A 65-year-old CPM worker, Motherbux Mullik, died in a bomb explosion outside a polling station at Bodai village in Amdanga in North 24-Parganas. The CPM leader alleged that Mullik was murdered by TMC men.

TMC worker Sanat Ghosh was shot in the afternoon near a polling station at Lakshmikantapur village at Usti in South 24-Parganas. The local TMC leaders blamed CPM cadres for the murder.

According to late night PTI reports, Sheikh Anwar Hossain (47) was beaten to death at Iyazpur under Deganga police station in North 24 Parganas district around 10 pm. PCC president Pradip Bhattacharya claimed Hossain was a Congress worker who was murdered by CPM activists.

In the second phase, three people were killed in Burdwan. A TMC activist was shot dead in South 24-Parganas district on July 18.

Till 5 pm, the turnout was 70.49 per cent in Howrah, 74 per cent in South 24-Parganas, and 70 per cent in North 24-Parganas, said Tapas Roy, secretary, State Election Commission (SEC). The turnout is likely to rise with people queued up at several booths in these districts till late evening.

Notwithstanding the incidents of violence, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed at an election rally at Rampurhat in Birbhum district that the third phase was peaceful. Alleging that the CPM had conspired to stall the elections, Mamata said, "People are not with them."

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