Isolated incidents of violence were reported in the last phase of polling for 35 seats in West Bengal on Thursday as 76.07% voters had exercised their franchise till 5 p.m.
The marathon exercise, which started on March 27, has come to a close with Kolkata recording the lowest turnout at 57.53%. Birbhum recorded the highest turnout (81.87%) followed by Malda (80.06%) and Murshidabad (78.07%).
Violence was reported from Kolkata where crude bombs were hurled in front of Mahajati Sadan and Rabindra Sarani in the early hours. Six persons were arrested in connection with the incidents. The situation in Beleghata and Manicktala Assembly segments turned volatile when the supporters of both the BJP and the Trinamool Congress exchanged blows. In Manicktala Assembly segment, the situation turned tense when TMC candidate Sadhan Pande and BJP’s Kalyan Chaubey came face to face with their supporters.
Violence was also reported from Nanoor and Bolpur in Birbhum district. The vehicle of BJP candidate from Nanoor Tarakeshwar Saha was attacked when he visited a village in the constituency. BJP candidate from Bolpur Anirban Ganguly also alleged that the party supporters were attacked in Ilambazar area. Supporters of both parties were seen chasing each other with batons and sticks in Birbhum. The Election Commission has deployed 641 companies of Central forces for the phase.
Additional DGP (Law and Order) Jag Mohan said 835 persons were arrested across the State which included four for violating prohibitory orders outside a polling booth and 20 in specific cases. 316 arrests were made in the Kolkata police jurisdiction. Five firearms and 22 rounds of bullets were also seized, he said.
Eleven Assembly seats of Murshidabad and Birbhum went to the polls along with six in Malda and seven in Kolkata.
Polling was also held at booth number 126 in the Sitalkuchi Assembly segment where it was suspended on April 10, after security forces opened fire in which four villagers died. There was some tension at the polling booth when a vehicle with BJP flags came near it.
Of the 294 Assembly seats, polling for Jangipur and Shamshergunj Assembly segments in Murshidabad has been suspended after the death of candidates.
Chief Electoral Officer Aariz Aftab said all measures are taken to ensure counting of votes is carried out as per COVID-19 guidelines. He said all those who participate in the counting process will have to undergo COVID-19 testing or double dose of vaccination.