1 killed, BJP candidate heckled as violence mars Bengal polls

Sunday, 12 May 2019

A BJP activist, identified as Ramen Singh (30) from Gopiballabpur in Jhargram constituency's, sustained grievous head injury after being hit with an iron rod.

Kolkata: A BJP worker was killed in West Bengal's Jhargram district amid widespread violence in the sixth phase of polling on Sunday which saw the saffron party's candidate from Ghatal and former IPS officer Bharati Ghosh seek refuge inside a temple after being chased by Trinamool Congress supporters.

Reports of violence, clashes between political workers and intimidation of voters multiplied as voting progressed in the eight Lok Sabha seats spread across five districts in West Bengal which went to the polls on Sunday.

A BJP activist, identified as Ramen Singh (30) from Gopiballabpur in Jhargram constituency's, sustained grievous head injury after being hit with an iron rod. He was rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead, the police said. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) later accused that miscreants backed by the Trinamool Congress were behind the crime.

In West Midnapore district's Ghatal, BJP candidate Bharati Ghosh was forced to take shelter inside a temple beside the Keshpur police station after being heckled and chased by Trinamool supporters, who accused her of instigating disturbance in the area. 

Rapid Action Force (RAF) and the police had to resort to lathi charge to dispurse the crowd. She was later rescued and given shelter in the Keshpur police station.

The mob led by Trinamool Congress supporters got infuriated after one of her security guards allegedly opened fire, reportedly injuring a Trinamool worker. 

Ghosh, a former IPS officer and once a trusted lieutenant of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, was earlier stopped by the police from moving around in her vehicle without permission.

"I sought permission and it was given. Now, they are denying it. My car has been seized and it was a ploy to deter me from moving around the constituency," Ghosh said.

Later, bricks were pelted on her convoy near Keshpur, injuring one of her security guards as her car, along with some other vehicles belonging to the media, were vandalised.

Ghosh alleged that she was assaulted by the agitating Trinamool supporters.

Her security personnel claimed that they had to fire in the air in a bid to control the situation and to save their own lives. However, a Trinamool worker was allegedly injured in the firing.

Earlier in the day, Ghosh was also stopped from entering a polling station by a group of women, said to be Trinamool workers, who accused her of influencing the voters.

However, Ghosh accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of organised violence and demanded that the offenders be immediately arrested.

"I am a candidate. I can always enter a polling booth. Those who are trying to stop me should be arrested. They (Trinamool) are resorting to organised violence against me," Ghosh said before leaving the spot.

Refuting her allegations, Trinamool leader and state Minister Firhad Hakim said, "She was instigating violence in the area and was threatening our workers. She was trying to enter the booth with his agent who was an outsider. Usually, agents sitting in the booths are locals and an outsider is not allowed."

In another incident, bombs were allegedly hurled targeting her convoy in Jhetla area.

Incidents of sporadic violence were also reported from the Midnapore constituency where the saffron party's state unit chief Dilip Ghosh is engaged in a high-profile battle with Trinamool Congress' Rajya Sabha member Manas Bhunia.

At least four Trinamool activists had to be hospitalised after being attacked with sharp weapons allegedly by the BJP supporters. The condition of one person was critical.

Meanwhile, a number of BJP supporters got injured in the constituency's Datan area following a clash with the Trinamool workers.

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