As the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections commences today, reports of rampant political violence and poll malpractice have been pouring in from West Bengal. Among this, a report has surfaced that Hindu residents of a Muslim dominated village have been barred from voting in the Raiganj constituency in the state.
The news channel crew proceeded to confront the polling staff and identification officer in charge of the booth along with the people who had alleged that proxy-votes have been cast in their name. The staff offered no answers.
The Times Now report reveals that the presiding officer at booth number 191 in Raiganj constituency had no clue as to who were the people who had cast their votes while almost 600 Hindus of the village claim that they were unable to cast their votes.
The report states that rampant proxy-voting has taken place in the area. Some Hindus have alleged that they were stopped from going near the polling booth by groups of Muslim men and had their voter ids snatched away. Other Hindus have claimed that when they managed to reach the polling booth, they found to their shock that their votes have already been cast.
The first polling officer who is also the identification officer was unable to offer any answer on how such level of proxy voting took place. The presiding officer has reportedly claimed that it is not his responsibility to confirm the identities of the voters.
The Times Now crew who exposed the rampant proxy-voting was also allegedly abused and threatened by the presiding officer. The report states that the cases of proxy-voting and forceful obstruction of Hindus from exercising their democratic rights have happened in numerous villages in the constituency.
BJP West Bengal has taken up the issue and moved to the Election Commission over the issue. It is notable here that there were already reports of violence and election malpractice coming in from the Raiganj constituency. BJP candidate Debashree Chaudhury had alleged that TMC workers were campaigning with groups of Muslims and they had tried to capture a booth there.