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Lok Sabha elections: Violence, EVM glitches mar final day of voting

Polling was also conducted for by-elections to four Assembly constituencies in Bengal, necessitated due to resignations by sitting MLAs who are contesting the parliamentary polls

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

A polling officer puts an indelible ink mark on the finger of a voter during the second phase of the general elections, at a polling station, in Nagaon, Thursday, April 18, 2019 | Photo: PTI

Voting machine glitches and sporadic incidents of violence in parts of West Bengal marked the final phase of Lok Sabha elections, which recorded 72.91 per cent turnout till 5pm in the nine parliamentary constituencies of the state on Sunday, officials said.

Till 5pm, Mathurapur (SC) recorded the highest turnout at 78.52 per cent, followed by Basirhat at 77.77 per cent and Diamond Harbour at 77.40 per cent, a senior Commission official said.

Jaynagar (SC) recorded 75.81 per cent turnount, Barasat 74.41 per cent, Dum Dum 73.05 per cent, Jadavpur 70.97 per cent, Kolkata Dakshin 67.09 per cent and Kolkata Uttar 61.18 per cent till 5pm of polling, they said.

Polling was also conducted for by-to four Assembly constituencies in Bengal, necessitated due to resignations by sitting MLAs who are contesting the parliamentary polls.

There have been reports of clashes, allegedly between the BJP and TMC activists, from Kankinada under the Bhatpara Assembly constituency where by-was underway, officials said.

Bombs were hurled at an office of the ruling TMC in Kankinada and was then set on fire with the central forces stepping in to bring the situation under control, they said.

The Barrackpore Police Commissionerate had to deploy Rapid Action Force (RAF) to control the situation there, a senior polling official said.

The Commission has sought a report from the North 24 Parganas district magistrate in connection with the violence in Bhatpara, which recorded 61.30 per cent polling, he said.

"Polling was absolutely peaceful. There was no report of any violence from anywhere in the nine constituencies. The incidents reported were very minor and necessary action was immediately taken," the official said.

"There were, however, reports of EVM glitches in several polling stations. We had to send reserve EVMs to the booths, where the voting process was temporarily hampered due to technical glitches," he told PTI.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, alleged that the the central forces and the BJP carried out "tortures" during Sunday's election.

"Since this morning, BJP workers and CRPF personnel carried out unprecedented tortures on voters. I have not seen such thing ever," Banerjee told reporters after casting her vote.

Former Trinamool Congress MLA and now BJP leader Arjun Singh, whose son Pawan Singh is contesting the Assembly by- election from Bhatpara seat against TMC's Madan Mitra, alleged that he was "confined inside a room" by state police and his movements were "totally restricted".

"I have been cooperating with the administration as well as police all through so that polling is conducted peacefully. But it was Madan Mitra who started creating problems in the area. And when we tried to stop him, the state police confined me inside a room saying that they were trying to control the situation," Arjun Singh said.

Habibpur (ST) Assembly constituency saw 71.60 per cent turnout, Islampur 71.53 per cent, Bhatpara 67.26 per cent, while Darjeeling recorded 60.80 per cent, the EC official said.

Meanwhile, BJP's Kolkata Uttar candidate Rahul Sinha claimed that a crude bomb was hurled near Girish Park area in the constituency around 12pm, creating panic among voters.

Police, however, said those were crackers and polling was peaceful.

In the Kolkata Dakshin constituency, TMC candidate Mala Roy alleged that she was stopped from entering polling booths.

There were also reports about vandalisation of cars of Nilanjan Roy, the BJP's Diamond Harbour constituency candidate, and Anupam Hazra, the party's nominee from Jadavpur.

A total of 1,49,63,064 voters decided the fate of 111 candidates from West Bengal in the final phase.

Altogether 710 companies of central forces were deployed at 17,042 polling booths in the state to ensure free and fair voting, the official said.

First Published: Sun, May 19 2019. 20:06 IST