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Fifth phase poll in Bengal witnesses almost a casualty free voting with turnout to be around 80%

As the Sitalkuchi killings (five dead) in the 4th phase were still debated among the rival political parties, holding the 5th phase polling peacefully amid surge of covid-19 was a major challenge for Election Commission of India

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Kolkata: Barring the death of a polling agent inside a booth following cardiac arrest, nearly a casualty free election was witnessed on Saturday in West Bengal’s 45 assembly seats for the 5th phase in six districts with turn out to be around 80 per cent amid unprecedented security arrangements.

As the Sitalkuchi killings (five dead) in the 4th phase were still debated among the rival political parties, holding the 5th phase polling peacefully amid surge of covid-19 was a major challenge for Election Commission of India, which deployed an unprecedented 1071 companies of central armed forces.

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Besides policing some 15,789 polling booths across the six districts to ensure free and fair polling, covid-19 precaution was also taken to 1.12 crore voters with thermal checking , sanitization of hands and providing plastic gloves against spreading pandemic.

In fact there had been no report of any violent incident reported from inside the booth and whatever stray incidents happened, which were far from the polling stations.

Only a polling agent of BJP at Kamarhati in North 24 Parganas died of cardiac arrest. Barasat Superintendent of Police has submitted his report to Special Police Observer on the alleged incident of ‘blank firing by CRPF personnel’ deputed at a booth in Deganga constituency. The report states that the “the allegation is found to be not based on facts.”

Earlier in the day, some people had alleged that central forces deputed to maintain peaceful polling had opened fire.

The convoy of BJP candidate from the Kamarhati constituency in the North 24 Parganas district, Raju Banerjee, was allegedly attacked,.

“Bomb and stones have been thrown at me. I have lodged a complaint with Election Commission,” he alleged.

In Siliguri, a scuffle broke out between TMC and CPI (M) supporters outside a polling booth. In Santipur in the Nadia district, the TMC alleged that personnel of the central forces were asking voters to go back, a charge rubbished by the authorities.

In Bijpur in North 24 Parganas, TMC and BJP supporters clashed after the opposition party alleged that voters were being prevented from going to the booths.

A BJP polling agent at Kamarhati assembly booth in North 24 Parganas district died of cardiac arrest in the first hours of the polling. “Nobody helped him, there is no facility for treatment here,” the victim’s brother alleged as the corps was on a table at the booth for quite some time before any help came for shifting to nearby hospital.

The Election Commission has sought report over death of a BJP polling agent, identified as Abhijit Samanta, at booth number 107 in Kamarhati assembly constituency in North 24 Pathanas, and a clash broke out between the TMC and BJP supporters at at Shantinagar under Bidhanagar assembly segment,Salt Lake.

A clash broke out between Trinamool and BJP supporters at Bidhanagar where rival groups pelted stones.

Several women were injured in the attack at Santinagar in Bidhanagar. BJP candidate Sabyasachi Dutta has reached the spot.

Stones and bricks were hurled in between the TMC and BJP activists at Shantinagar under Bidhangar where the rival parties blamed each other for obstructing voters to go to the booths.

Trinamool Congress candidate and state fire minister Sujit Bose alleged that he was stopped from entering a booth at Kalindi.

“Two of our people were injured in stone-pelting by BJP supporters at booth numbers 265 & 272. We have informed the election observer and police. The situation is normal now,’ Bose said.

BJP candidate Sabyasachi Dutta alleged the TMC goons were creating problem before the combat force arrived to restore the situation. A BJP leader at Kalyani claimed that his house was attacked with bombs.

In South Burdwan a polling agent of BJP was assaulted.

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