Six killed in phase-IV Bengal rural polls

Bengal PollsSecurity personnel guard a polling booth at a village in Berhampore Monday.

Six deaths were reported as violence escalated in the four poll-bound districts in the fourth phase of panchayat elections Monday. Significantly, one person was killed when central forces fired at voters at Ratua in Malda district. Over 35 people including three children were injured.

The second and the third phase had recorded three and five killings, respectively. The first phase covering the Maoist-dominated districts had passed off without a loss of life.

On Monday, nearly 110 people were arrested for disturbing the poll process, rioting and arson.

According to the State Election Commission (SEC), the polling was nearly 60 per cent by 5 pm.

In Malda district, a 55-year-old farmer, Abdul Mannan, was shot dead by the CRPF after voters, angry at a slow queue, threw stones at a polling booth at Sambalpur village in Ratua. The CRPF reportedly fired six rounds.

While the SEC has sought a report from the district authorities about the firing, the ruling Trinamool Congress government has accused the central forces of indulging in "excesses".

In the third phase, too, a 25-year-old voter was shot dead by central forces at Joynagar in South 24-Parganas.

A woman voter, Noorjahan Biwi, was killed in a bomb attack when clashes broke out between two rival parties at Beldanga in Murshidabad. It was an improvised "socket bomb" made with iron pipes, said the local police.

The bodies of two CPM supporters were recovered early Monday morning at Basudevpur village in Mayureshwar area of Birbum district. Sources said the two were suspected to have been killed when bombs went off accidentally Monday morning.

Another body was recovered from Raninagar in Murshidabad district in which the victim is suspected to have died of bomb splinter injuries.

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