Large-scale violence perpetrated by alleged Trinamul Congress “goons” marked polling in Malda district on Sunday. The election heat was on since the day the poll process kicked off, and the same culminated in a showdown between activists of several political parties as the district voted on Sunday.
Reports of false voting, booth capturing, jamming and driving away of polling agents poured in from various areas in the district since morning, while clashes left several people injured.
The Baharal area under the Ratua police station topped the list of violence-marred places as “goons hired from Jharkhand and led by Mohammad Yasin” captured booths, fired gunshots, hurled crude bombs and burnt ballot boxes and papers on the roads.
Yasin, who is the husband of a Zilla Parishad candidate there, is accused in several criminal cases, and he recently got out of jail, sources said.
Unfortunately, the police and the administration turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to all the incidents, while locals put up some resistance and blocked the state highway.
The final figures said there was 64% voting in the district. “Two Congress MPs from Malda–Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury and Mausam Noor-were confused at such use of unfair means in the elections, which was not heard of or seen in the district and they have demanded re-polling in many booths,” party sources said.
According to sources, since around 9 am, goons, allegedly backed by the ruling TMC, started capturing various polling stations in different blocks like Chanchal, Harishchandrapur, Ratua, Kaliachak, Gazole, Manikchak and Bamongola.
The Opposition parties also allegedly did the same at some places, but mainly as a measure to counter the TMC’s bid to overpower the opposition parties with muscle power.
Seven persons were injured at Paharpur under the Kaliachak police station, 20 at Chandmoni under the Ratua PS, four at Gazole and many more opposition activists were injured in clashes across the district, while some TMC men were also reported injured at Bamongola and English Bazaar.
“For the first time in my life, I told my wife that she does not need to cast her vote,” said an influential TMC leader of Ratua area. Mr Khan Choudhury and Ms Noor later told The Statesman that they had got reports of possible violence a day in advance and had approached the district observer, seeking tight security arrangements.
“We hoped to get enough seats to form the board in the Malda Zilla Parishad, but as the people were debarred from exercising their democratic rights and there rampant false voting by the Trinamul Congress, we have no option but to demand re-polling in many booths this time, perhaps more than half of the total booths,” said Ms Noor.