Kolkata, May 11: Scores of people were injured in stray incidents of poll-related violence, as the first phase of Panchayat elections began in five districts of West Bengal today.
While reports from East Midnapore informed that at least 20 people were injured in clashes between CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress supporters at Bhajachauli village under Contai block, several others were injured in Arati village under Faridpur panchayat block of Durgapur after police resorted to lathicharge to disperse clashing workers.
SDO Durgapur R N Basurai Chaudhuri said due to clashes between rival parties at Arati village, polling had been briefly interrupted, but denied that anyone being injured in the area or police using lathicharged to disperse the mob.
Meanwhile, in Nandigram, polling has been stopped as CPI(M) cadres have stopped voters from exercsing their franchise to protest the alleged assault of two of their women activists by CRPF DIG Alok Raj.
CPI(M) MP Lakhman Seth had filed an FIR against the DIG and charged him of assaulting two women. However, Mr Raj denied these allegations as baseless and termed these allegations as ''nothing more than attempts to put pressure on me''.
He further added that he would sue the former for defamation after the elections were over.
Mr Raj also got involved in an argument over phone with CPI(M) Lok Sabha member Laxman Seth, who had allegedly tried to direct the movement of the Central police officer.
Mr Seth accused Mr Raj of going beyond his purview while supervising security during the polling.
Police arrested five Maoist ultras who tried to obstruct voters from casting their votes at the Garra Primary School under Lalgarh block in West Midnapore district.
Lalgarh Block Development Officer (BDO) Chinmoy Mondol said the proscribed Maoist ultras had earlier called for boycott of the Panchayat elections.
The militants threatened the people who had come to cast their votes following which the voting process was obstructed for some time. Meanwhile in Jhargram sub-division, the ultras planted land mines on the road connecting Belpahario to Kakrajor to terrorise voters.
The BDO had to create separate path for the voters to pass.
Police however arrived at the spot and cordoned off the area where the land mines were planted. But, due to the ongoing polling, the police have not made any attempts to remove the maines from the area, police said.
. Meanwhile, in Pandobeswar's Kenda village in Durgapur district, naxals tried to capture a booth in Jaipuria area. However, police soon arrived at the spot and foiled their attempts. The ultras fled as soon as they saw the police approaching. Polling here resumed after half hour's interruption.
In Bamunara village in Kanksa in Durgapur CPI(M) supoprters alleged that Trinsmool activists had burnt their party flags.
Meanwhile in Phakirbandh ubnder Manteswar area of Bardhaman district, reports came in of ballot boxes being looted. Bardhaman DM Manish Jain said polling has been completely stopped in the area.
Meanwhile, Amlasol village under Belpahari block of West Midnapore district witnessed very sparse voting as the voters failed to turn up following threats from Maoist ultras to boycott the elections.
However, Deputy Inspector General of Police(Law and Order) Raj Kanoria said, ''So far the polling is by and large peaceful everywhere and a good number of people have turned up to cast their votes.'' West Midnapore District Magistrate N S Nigam said 32 per cent voting had been recorded in the district so far.
The second and third phases of polls would be held in 13 more districts on May 14 and 18.