5 Killed in 2nd phase Panchayat poll

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Kolkata, May 14 (UNI) At least five people, including a child, were killed and several injured as rival parties clashed at various places during polling for the second phase of Panchayat elections in five West Bengal districts today.

A report from Nadia said a policeman from Bardhaman, posted at a polling booth in Dhantala in the district, suffered a heart attack and later died at the Ranaghat Sub-Divisional Hospital. Three polling personnel were also taken ill in Haringhata and shifted to a health centre. Polling was held up briefly there.

Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said three people were killed and five injured when supporters of the RSP and CPI(M) clashed with bombs at Talda under Basanti police station in South 24 Parganas district.

A youth was killed when the bomb he was carrying went off at Domjur in Howrah district. A child died when another bomb exploded near him in Panchla in the same district. His mother was standing in a queue at a polling booth when the bomb exploded.

Mr.Kanojia said several houses were burnt down in retaliation as RSP supporters went on a rampage at Basanti following the death of their partymen.

The situation was, however, brought under control after a large contingent of police rushed to the spot, he said.

While CPI(M) supporters clashed with SUCI men at Canning in South 24 Pargana district, an unconfirmed report said two persons were killed while making bombs at a village in Nadia district.

The Trinamool Congress alleged that CPI-M supporters had beaten up their agent at Gopalnagar in South 24 Parganas and jammed the booth at Deulti in Howrah.

In North 24 Pargana district Striking Forces were deputed at Subharantnapur under Gopalnagar police station, Saiberia under Rajarhat police station, Bhawanipore under Hasnabad block I, Kawgachhi under Barrackpore Block I and some other places to disperse warring groups from polling station areas.

Police had to resort to lathi charge at some places to bring the situation under control.

In Hooghly local residents boycotted polling at Dhaniakhali block in Mandra panchayat protesting alleged lack of development.

Meanwhile, Singur Krishi Jami Raksha Committee leader Becharam Manna alleged that the police were not allowing voters to exercise their franchise.

Barring few minor incidents, polling, however, continued by and large peacefully in other areas, including Singur which had witnessed protests against land acquisition for the Tata Motors' small car project, Mr.Kanojia said.

An average of 40 per cent polling had been recorded by 1300 hours.

The polling was being held in North 24 Pargana, South 24 Pargana, Nadia, Hooghly and Howrah districts under heavy security.

About 30,000 policemen, most of them being shifted from other districts, have been deployed for maintaining the law and order.

While 90 per cent of the booths are having armed policemen, senior police officers, including an ADG, an IG, a DIG and an SP, are specially in charge of the five districts, Mr.Kanojia said.

Additional force had been deployed at Singur and few other sensitive areas, he added.


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