Incidents of violence were reported from across West Bengal as polling to elect panchayat representatives went under way on Monday. Six workers from Trinamool Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were killed and several others sustained injuries in the violence that engulfed the state.

TV news channels aired footage showing goons brandishing weapons. In less than two hours from the start of the elections at 7 am, violence broke out in North 24 Parganas, Burdwan, Coochbehar and South 24 Parganas districts.

According to reports, three of the six people who have been killed in the violence belonged to the CPI(M), while one was from the TMC and one from the BJP.

Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien however appeared to play down the ongoing political violence by comparing the same to the violence during the Left Front rule.

“To all ‘newborn’ experts on Bengal #PanchayatElections in State have a history. 400 killed in poll violence in 1990s in CPIM rule. 2003: 40 dead.Every death is a tragedy,” he wrote.

“Now closer to normal than earlier times.Yes, few dozen incidents. Say,40 out of 58000 booths. What’s %age ?” he added dismissively.

 

In a second tweet, the Rajya Sabha MP claimed that both the BJP and the CPI(M) had joined hands with the Maoists.

“CPI(M) and BJP are now so desperate that they are even ganging up with Maoists to kill/shoot/stab three Trinamool workers in different incidents in #Bengal today. Deliberately trying to foment trouble. Is this democracy?” he wrote.

 

There were reports of ballot boxes being set on fire and booth capturing at some places. Bombs were also reportedly hurled at some places, including at cops in Uluberia.

The Left front has claimed that two of its supporters were charred to death in a fire last night at Namkhana in 24 Parganas South district. It has been alleged that TMC supporters set their house on fire.

Read More: West Bengal panchayat elections | Facts, figures and everything else you need to know

In the same district, a TMC worker was shot dead on Monday.

In North 24 Parganas, another CPI(M) worker was killed in a blast during clashes while two others were injured.

Another BJP worker is undergoing treatment after being allegedly stabbed by TMC workers in Bilkanda.

Voting was stopped at a polling station in Murshidabad after ballot papers were thrown into a pond following a clash between TMC and BJP workers.

West Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh was caught on camera slapping a BJP polling agent in Natabari, prompting the saffron party to demand his immediate arrest. Ghosh defended himself saying the BJP worker was escaping with a ballot box.

Read More: Bengal panchayat polls: BJP demands TMC minister’s arrest for slapping its worker

Reports say Ghosh was served a showcause notice by the SEC.

Even journalists were injured in the violence. Around 26 per cent of the total voters had turned up to exercise their franchise till 11 am.

The State Election Commission, which is conducting the panchayat elections, has received numerous complaints of violence and has asked the police to take action.