West Bengal's Cooch Behar remains tense with incidents of post-poll violence | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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West Bengal's Cooch Behar remains tense with incidents of post-poll violence

Apr 20, 2024 06:15 PM IST

The TMC has alleged that the house of one of their workers was ransacked in Dinhata and his father was also beaten up.

Several areas in Cooch Behar remained tense on Saturday even as post-poll violence erupted in some parts of the north Bengal district soon after polling in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections ended on Friday evening.

Policemen outside a polling station during the first phase of voting in the Lok Sabha elections at Bakshirhat area in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district on Friday. (AFP)
Policemen outside a polling station during the first phase of voting in the Lok Sabha elections at Bakshirhat area in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district on Friday. (AFP)

The district, where five persons were killed in firing on a single day during the state assembly elections in April 2021, remained the focal point of poll-related violence on Friday when polling was going on.

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The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has alleged that the house of one of their workers was ransacked in Dinhata and his father was also beaten up while the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that at least nine of their workers have been hospitalised after being attacked by TMC goons

“One of our panchayat members was beaten up in Dinhata-II block. He was not spared even though he is physically challenged,” said Udayan Guha, minister for north Bengal development.

At Sitalkuchi, people familiar with the matter said, crude bombs were hurled in front a BJP worker’s house on Friday night after the voting process ended. No one was injured. Police recovered some crude bombs at Khar Karia village in Dinhata. Clashes were also reported from Gitaldaha.

At least five persons were killed in Sitalkuchi on April 10, 2021, when assembly polls were being held in the district. While a 17-year-old first-time voter was killed in an alleged political clash in Pathatuli village, four village youths were killed in firing by central forces at Jorepatki village, around 15 km away.

On Friday, clashes erupted in some areas such as Chandmari, Bhetaguri, Sitalkuchi, Sitai and Mathabhanga.

“At least nine BJP workers have been hospitalised after being attacked by TMC goons. Clashes broke out in some pockets of four assembly constituencies in the district – Sitai, Natabari, Sutalkuchi and Dinhata,” said Sukumar Ray, the BJP’s district present in Cooch Behar.

Both parties levelled charges against each other of intimidating voters, preventing them from reaching polling booths and assaulting booth agents. There were incidents of temporary election offices of political parties being set on fire in some areas such as Toofanganj in Cooch Behar and Dabgram-Fulbari in Jalpaiguri.

Along with Cooch Behar, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri in north Bengal also went into polls on Friday during the first phase of Lok Sabha elections. All three were wrested by the BJP in 2019 election.

“The Election Commission of India (ECI) received 556 complaints from the three districts, out of which 269 came from Cooch Behar,” said a senior poll panel official.

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