Scores of people injured in stray incidents of poll-related violence

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Kolkata, May 11 (UNI) Scores of people were injured in stray incidents of poll-related violence, as the first phase of the Panchayat elections began in five districts of West Bengal today.

While reports from East Midnapore informed that at least 20 persons 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 pancjhayat block of Durgapur after police resorted to lathicharge to disperse rival party workers.

However, SDO Durgapur R N Basurai Chaudhuri said that due to clashes between rival parties at Arati village, polling had been briefly interrupted, but denied that anyone had been injured in the area or that police had lathicharged to disperse the crowd.

Meanwhile, in Nandigram, polling has been stopped as CPI(M) cadres have stopped votyers 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 him 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 will sue the former for defamation after the elections are 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, however, accused Mr.Raj of going beyond his purview while supervising security during the polling.

Meanwhile, 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 connectin Belpahario to Kakrajor to terrorise the voters. The BDO had to create separate path for the voters to pass.

Police have arrived at the spot and cordoned off the area where the land mines were planted. However, due to the ongoing polling, the police have not made any attempts to remove the maines from the area, police said.

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