After Bengal panchayat poll violence, voters happy with re-poll under heavy security cover

Murshidabad (west Bengal) [India]: With re-polling of the Panchayat elections underway in West Bengal, voters in Murshidabad on Monday expressed their happiness over the deployment of central forces.

“Today, it feels like an election day. We can see the central forces today”, said Anamika Mandal, who came to cast her vote at Tikiapara Primary High School in the Murshidabad district.

In addition, another voter, Anjana Majumdar, expressed her happiness over the deployment of the central forces. She said, “The first day there were no central forces. There were just three Police personnel. Today, we are happy to see the central forces here, we will be able to cast votes properly and go home.”

Speaking about the security arrangements in South 24 Parganas, SDPO Canning Dibakar Das says, “There are proper arrangements. Punjab Police gave us 10 Constables and an officer, and so did West Bengal Police. I too have a reserve of 52 Constables and two officers with me…We have enough deployment today and voters are already lining up. Polling has already started…”

Re-polling is underway in 697 booths across five districts of West Bengal on Monday following the violence during the panchayat polls in the state on July 8.
The re-polling will be conducted in 697 booths across five districts: Purulia, Birbhum, Jalpaiguri, Nadia and South 24 Parganas, said West Bengal State Election Commission (SEC).

The SEC, in an official release, said, “The West Bengal State Election Commision in the exercise of the powers conferred on it by sub-section-3 and sub-section-4 of Section-67 of the said Act, hereby fixes 10th day of July 2023, as the date of taking the fresh polls at 7:00 hours to be continued upto 17:00 hours uninterruptedly till completion and direct the District Panchayat Election Officer to fix the polling station at which polls will be taken”.

Earlier on Sunday, alleging ballot rigging in the West Bengal panchayat polls which is marred by violence, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Khagen Murmu called for re-polling in Bengal, claiming that presiding officers and election staff were engaged in proxy voting in favour of the Trinamool Congress (TMC).West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state general secretary Jagannath Chattopadhyay also wrote to the State Election Commission and demanded repolling.

A total of 10 people were killed and several injured in violence reported across the state during the Panchayat poll.

The three-tier panchayat elections in 20 out of 30 districts were marked by widespread violence, looting of ballots papers and rigging.There were reports of booth capturing, damaging of ballot boxes and assault of presiding officers from several districts such as Murshidabad, Cooch Behar, Malda, South 24 Parganas, North Dinajpur and Nadia.

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