On Friday, a vehicle hired by the Election Commission for poll duty was set on fire in Bandwan in Purulia district of West Bengal. The incident took place just hours before the first phase of Vidhan Sabha elections in the State.
As per reports, the vehicle was returning after dropping officials on election duty at the polling station. When it reached the former Maoist affected Tulsidi village in ‘Jangalmahal’, the car was ambushed by a group of miscreants. They hurled petrol bombs at the vehicle, before disappearing into the forests. While the driver of the car managed to escape unhurt, the vehicle turned into ashes.
The driver of the vehicle happens to be the only eye witness to the attack. While speaking to ABP Ananda, he said that two masked men emerged from the forest and stopped the vehicle. They threw explosive chemicals into the backseat, thereby causing the car to catch fire. The miscreants also blocked the door of the car so as to not allow the driver to escape. However, he managed to exit only after they had left the crime scene.
Officials from the fire brigade were called in to douse the fire. Reportedly, the polling station is located just half a kilometre away from the place, where the vehicle was torched. Moreover, the car was easily distinguishable as it bore the sticker of the Election Commission. It must be mentioned that all 9 Vidhan Sabha constituencies in Purulia are up for voting on Saturday during the first phase of elections.
The police have initiated an investigation into the case. They conducted search operation in the forest area, with the help of locals. They are now probing whether the attack has been orchestrated by Maoist groups. The police informed that a forensic team will be called in to investigate the chemicals used in the attack. The incident has triggered panic and fear among the residents in the area.
West Bengal election scheduled from March 27
The West Bengal State Legislative polls will be conducted in 8 phases. The elections will commence from 27 and the counting will be done on May 2. Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora informed that the second phase will be conducted on April 1 for 30 constituencies, followed by the 3rd Phase on April 6. The 4th phase will be conducted on April 10, followed by the 5th and 6th phase on April 17 and April 23 respectively. The last phase of polls will take place on April 29.