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Nearly 80% polling in Bengal amid violence (4th lead) (5 p.m.)

IANS  |  Kolkata 

From a getting killed in to party workers sustaining bullet injuries and candidates getting heckled -- widespread violence again marred the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections in on Sunday.

But despite the clashes, 79.93 per cent of the 1,33,56,964 voters exercised their franchise till 5 p.m. in the eight constituencies spread across five districts which went to the polls in sixth phase, the said.

Tamluk recorded the highest polling percentage at 82.99 per cent, followed by (81.90 per cent), (81.68 per cent), (80.35 per cent), Kanthi (80.06 per cent), Purulia (78.64 per cent), Midnapore (78.17 per cent) and Bankura (75.68 per cent).

There are 83 candidates in the fray in the penultimate phase of polling in the state which is voting in all the seven phases of the staggered Lok Sabha elections. For the BJP, which is aiming to make it big in the state, the sixth phase is perhaps the most crucial one as its includes four constituencies with sizeable tribal population, a section the party has been wooing.

Violence was reported from various parts of the state even before polling began and a middle-aged activist was killed in district in the tribal heartland of the state.

Ramen Singh (30) from Gopiballavpur sustained grievous head injury after being hit with an iron rod. Singh was rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead, the police said. The later accused that miscreants backed by the Congress were behind the crime.

In district's Ghatal, candidate and former IPS was forced to take shelter inside a temple beside the station after being heckled and chased by supporters, who accused her of instigating disturbance in the area. Ghosh was rescued by the security personnel after nearly two hours.

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

Locals alleged that Ghosh herself had directed her security guards to fire at the mob near a polling station after her convoy was stopped by a group of agitators.

"Voting was going on peacefully. But Ghosh came in a convoy of nearly 15 cars and tried to intimidate the voters. When the locals tried to stop her, she asked her security personnel to fire at them. One Trinamool supporter received bullet injury in his hand," a local said.

Denying the allegations, Ghosh accused the of deliberately stopping her convoy to heckle her and impede her from visiting the polling booths.

"If my has opened fire, the police should lodge an FIR against him, check his gun and match the bullet that has been fired. But why are they stopping me? As a candidate, I am entitled to travel across the constituency and visit the polling stations. It is a conspiracy by the as I am trying stop the Trinamool from rigging," Ghosh said, adding that she was not happy with the role played the

Ghosh was earlier stopped from entering a polling booth in by a group of women, said to be workers, who accused her of influencing the voters.

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.

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.

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

Meanwhile, Deepak (Dev) Adhikari, the and the sitting Trinamool from Ghatal, visited to the house of injured in the firing and accused his rival Ghosh of trying to trigger unrest in the area.

"She (Ghosh) has been trying to cause unrest in the area by intimidating the locals for the last few days. But not a single Trinamool activist said anything to her. Today she did the same, but the villagers in Keshpur resisted. I do not want this. Polling should happen in a peaceful manner," Adhikari said.

In East Midnapore's Kanthi, shots were fired by unidentified assailants which injured two BJP activists -- and -- who were rushed to a hospital in Kolkata. The saffron party has blamed the Trinamool-backed miscreants for the incident.

Incidents of violence and clashes were also reported from Midnapore, where BJP's is engaged in a high-profile battle with Rajya Sabha member Manas Bhunia.

At least four Trinamool workers had to be hospitalised after being attacked with sharp objects allegedly by the BJP supporters. The condition of one person was said to be critical, Bhunia said.

The Trinamool workers also staged a protest demonstration against Dilip Ghosh, who was denied entry into some polling booths in Rampura area where alleged proxy voting by Trinamool supporters was reported.

In other incidents, a Trinamool camp office in Belda in district was ransacked allegedly by BJP workers, leaving four Trinamool workers injured.

Meanwhile, a number of BJP supporters received injuries in Datan in East Midnapore following a clash with some Trinamool workers.

In Kanthi, the body of a Trinamool worker, (40), having serious injury marks on the head was recovered hours before the voting started on Sunday.

While Trinamool said that it was a case of accident, the party's local leaders accused BJP supporters of killing Maity.

"The body of was found with injury marks on the back of his head. The cause of death would be ascertained after the post-mortem," the police said.

A total of 770 companies of central forces have been deployed in the state's tribal heartland, as well as for the seats in Junglemahal, once a hotbed of Maoist activities.

The remaining nine of the 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state will vote in the seventh and final phase on May 19. The votes will be counted on May 23.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, May 12 2019. 19:54 IST