Violent phase

Print edition : May 13, 2016

IN spite of the assurances given by the Election Commission (E.C.), the first two phases of polling in West Bengal were not without bloodshed. The second day of the first phase on April 11 was marred by violent incidents both during and after polling. Political observers are of the opinion that the ruling Trinamool Congress used strong-arm tactics to deter voters supporting the opposition Congress-Left combine from casting their votes.

At Bazaar Para village in Pandaveswar taluk of Bardhaman district, five houses belonging to Communist Party of India (Marxist) supporters were set on fire allegedly by Trinamool party miscreants. Bidyut Bag recalled that his house was under attack from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on April 11. “They threatened me while the voting was on that they would catch us later. The police just stood by and watched as they launched the attack. I am only a supporter of the CPI(M), not an activist, but I was not spared. The Trinamool Congress, it appears, wants to wipe out all traces of opposition,” Bidyut said.

Bidyut’s family continue to remain under threat. His wife, Krishna, fears for the safety of their children—a 13-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy. “They come every day and tell us to leave the area or face the consequences. Not just me, all the women in the region live in fear,” Krishna said.

A portion of the ground floor of the CPI(M) activist Basudev Ghosh’s house was completely gutted along with the electronic goods that were kept there. Stung by widespread criticism for its apparent failure to curb violence, the E.C. was more vigilant during the second phase (third day) of the elections, on April 17. The Commission lodged two first information reports against Anubrata Mandal, the controversial Trinamool Congress strongman belonging to the trouble-torn Birbhum district.

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadyay

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