Saturday, April 19, 2014

Forward Bloc demands repoll in 3 assembly segments

Cooch Behar: The lukewarm run-up to voting in Cooch Behar was shattered by complaints of violence, attacks by ruling Trinamool Congress workers and high-pitched protests by opposition Forward Bloc on Thursday. FB demands re-poll in three assembly segments - Natabari, South Cooch Behar and Sitalkuchi. The first incident of violence was reported in Toofangunj's Ward 1. Alleged Trinamool supporters hacked at 72-year-old Nripen Chandra Das, polling agent for FB candidate Deepak Ray, just outside polling booth 9/166, which is in Cooch Behar but is counted under Alipurduar Lok Sabha seat. There weren't any central forces to stop the assault and local police looked the other way, says Pal. He suffered grievous cuts and was admitted to Toofangunj sub-divisional hospital and then taken 25km tom Cooch Behar Sadar hospital. The administration sat tight until the chief electoral office asked SP Anup Jaiswal to inquire into the incident personally and report back. The two other incidents were no less violent. In Cooch Behar's Sath-Mile, mother and son Dhauli Bewa, 70, and Sasharuddin Miya, 55, were attacked because they were SUCI supporters. And in Mathbhanga, FB polling agent Satish Laskar was attacked outside a booth. All three are in hospital. Dinhata's Forward Bloc MLA Udayan Guha said: "These weren't the only ones. Complaints have been pouring in since last night. I had informed the district administration but my worst fears have come true. I do not allege bias directly, but the district magistrate and SP were the ones who supervised the panchayat polls. That perhaps says it all." FB candidate Deepak Ray met DM Mohan Gandhi and sat in demonstration in front of his office, demanding repoll in three assembly segments. One of these seats is South Cooch Behar, where the MLA is FB's Akshay Thakur. The DM asked for an hour's time to go through the complaints. According to sources, the Left even considered pulling out of the poll process in protest but with election only starting in Bengal, withdrawal in Cooch Behar could have been detrimental to the Left fight back in other seats. A FB delegation met the CEO in Kolkata and MLA Udayan Guha met the Cooch Behar DM. "The DM said he is going through every specific allegation. Top officers will inquire into it. This is welcome, but too late. They will let us know the report within two days. We will take a decision after that," said Guha. In Kolkata, EC special observer Sudhir Kumar Rakesh said they were studying the preliminary reports. "If the complaints are specific, they will be enquired. As of now, we have nothing to say," he said.

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