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Six more lives lost in West Bengal panchayat poll violence as death toll reaches 48

Three individuals, including two Indian Secular Front (ISF) supporters, were allegedly killed in police firing outside a counting centre in Bhangar, South 24 Parganas district.

On 12th July 2023, fresh incidents of violence were reported in West Bengal, resulting in six more casualties, bringing the total death toll to 48 since the announcement of the rural panchayat elections on June 8. The violence, thanks to clashes between political party supporters, has raised concerns about the state’s security situation.

Three individuals, including two Indian Secular Front (ISF) supporters, were allegedly killed in police firing outside a counting centre in Bhangar, South 24 Parganas district. The victims were identified as Rezaul Gazi (23), Hasan Mollah (27), and Raju Mollah (25). While the relatives and residents accused the police of firing the shots, the police authorities declined to comment until an investigation is conducted.

According to police sources, the violence erupted when Trinamool Congress (TMC) supporters reportedly attempted to coerce ISF candidate Jahanara Bibi into admitting defeat, despite the official results not yet being declared. This led to clashes, with ISF supporters gathering outside the counting centre and allegedly hurling crude bombs. The police allegedly responded with gunfire, resulting in casualties.

In separate incidents, a TMC supporter named Tariqul Sheikh was killed when miscreants threw a bomb at a victory rally in the Khempur panchayat area of Chanchal block in Malda district. Additionally, a TMC worker named Biplab Halder was allegedly killed in Raidighi, South 24 Parganas. Furthermore, a Congress worker named Rajesh Shekhar (28), who was injured during polling on 8th July, succumbed to his injuries in a Kolkata hospital.

Amidst the escalating violence, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed that 19 people, primarily from the TMC, had died in poll-related violence since the announcement of the elections. Banerjee assured that the police would be given a free hand to act against those responsible for the violence. She also announced compensation for the families of the deceased.

The TMC has emerged as the clear winner in the panchayat elections, securing over half the seats while BJP finished second in the election that was marred by large-scale violence.

A four-member BJP team led by former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad visited violence-affected areas in West Bengal on Wednesday, 12th July 2023, and planned to submit a report to party president JP Nadda.

The incidents of violence during the panchayat polls have raised concerns about the deteriorating law and order situation in West Bengal. The Calcutta High Court has already ordered the retention of central forces in the state for at least 10 days after the announcement of poll results to prevent post-poll clashes. Over 800 companies of central forces have been deployed in the state to maintain peace and security.

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OpIndia Staff
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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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