West Bengal panchayat elections: Repoll ordered in 568 booths

West Bengal panchayat polls State election body orders re-election in 568 booths after violence

West Bengal panchayat polls State election body orders re-election in 568 booths after violence

"The Union home ministry has asked the West Bengal government to provide a detailed report on the violence during the polls as the report the State Government had sent was sketchy", a home ministry official said.

Kolkata: Criticising the West Bengal Election Commission for "failing to conduct free and fair" panchayat elections, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Wednesday said democracy has been murdered in the state. A lot of people died because of violence created by Mamata Banerjee's party.

The West Bengal Panchayat election was held after days of court battle and opposition allegations of "Trinamool terror" - accusations the ruling party has denied. In the polling booths of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Paragana and West Midnapore, security personnel maintained strict vigil on the re-polling process and kept these areas nearly violence-free. "So the commission chose to order repolling in all such booths where irregularities took place", said a source.

"The re-polling started at 7 am in the morning and will end at 5 pm". In the 20 zilla parishads, 203 of the 825 seats were uncontested.

The state election commission declined to comment on Ray's death.

He said the administration was in the process of ensuring tight security for Wednesday's re-polling between 7am and 5pm.

The booths, where re-polling is taking place, include 63 in Murshidabad, 52 in Coochbehar, 28 in West Midnapore and 10 in Hooghly among others.

Reports of looting ballot boxes came from Malda district.

Tension erupted in Raiganj in North Dinajpur district where mutilated body of a polling officer Rajkumar Roy was recovered from the rail tack.

Interestingly, the commission didn't order any re-polling at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas, which witnessed violence and killing during the poll. "The number could well have reached 1,500 if the poll officials had factored in other incidents like proxy voting and rigging", he added.

Various reports of violence were reported from some parts, with Rapid Action Force (RAF) and police personnel charging on the crowd.

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