Seven killed in panchayat poll-related violence in West Bengal

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The West Bengal panchayat polls were marked by sporadic incidents of violence in which at least five people were killed and several people were injured on Monday, according to reports.

Polling began at 0700 hours and would end at 1700 hours.

After a protracted legal battle in the Kolkata High Court and the Supreme Court involving the Sec, the TMC and the opposition parties, the three-tier panchayat polls in is being held in the state.

However, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee did not campaign, She appealed to the people of Bengal to vote in support of her government's development works.

As many as 20 people were injured in fresh clashes which broke out between two groups here in Cooch Behar on Monday morning, amid the ongoing panchayat polls in the state. The counting will take place on May 17.

After West Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh was caught on camera slapping a BJP polling agent when the voting for the panchayat polls was on in the state, the saffron party has demanded his immediate arrest. From Birpara, a video emerged showing alleged Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers barring voters from entering the polling booth.

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Reports of violence have been received from North 24 Parganas, Burdwan, Coochbehar and South 24 Parganas districts, they said. They also accused the ruling Trinamool for unleashing a reign of terror during the nomination process for the polls.

The TMC has termed the allegations baseless. Trinamool Congress worker Arif Ali Gaji allegedly succumbed to his injuries in South 24 Parganas Kultali after allegedly shot by SUCI workers.

Candidates were earlier asked to file nominations between April 2 and April 9, but after clashes between the ruling party and Opposition candidates, the date was extended to April 23. Strict security arrangements have been made for the polls, and about 1,500 security personnel have been deployed from Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh. The election mandate will decide the fate of 621 Zilla Parishad and 6,157 panchayats Samitis other than 31,827-gram panchayats.

The Opposition parties have pressed for polls in multiple phases with the deployment of central armed police forces.

West Bengal panchayat poll: Violence across was reported on Saturday. With 40 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats located in the districts, political parties are viewing today's event as a warm up match ahead of 2019 general elections.

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