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38 per cent cast their votes in first 4 hrs, 3 persons injured

5th phase of Wes Bengal polls

Kolkata : Over 38 per cent of the electorate cast their votes in the first four hours today in the fifth and penultimate phase of the assembly polls in West Bengal where three persons sustained injuries in sporadic incidents of violence.

Till 11 AM, voter turnout of 36.97 per cent was recorded from Hooghly district, 39.81 per cent in South 24 Parganas while Kolkata South had the lowest turnout with 32.58 per cent.

The Election Commission said the overall average turnout was 38.30 per cent.

A report from Chinsurah in Hooghly district said a villager sustained head injury when he was allegedly attacked by Trinamool Congress supporters at Puin village in Arambag constituency.

N. Babu, the villager, was attacked while returning after casting his vote, a police officer said.

He was rushed to Arambag sub-divisional hospital where he was released after first aid, the officer said.

Babu alleged that TMC supporters had warned him not t cast his vote the night before but he had defied themĀ  and exercised his franchise, thereby incurring their ire.

Police have arrested one TMC supporter. A report from Canning in South 24 Parganas said two persons were injured as central force jawans used batons to disperse clashing Trinamool Congress and CPI(M) supporters in front of a booth in Kathaliya village under Bhangar constituency.

The two injured were rushed to Bhangar hospital and later discharged after treatment, a police officer said.

Trinamool Congress candidate from Bhangar, Rezzak Mollah rushed to the spot and was involved in an altercation with the central forces following the incident, the officer said.

In Bahareshole village in Goghat constituency in Hooghly district, Forward Bloc candidate Bishwanath Tarak complained to the Election Commission that he was pushed around by TMC supporters who had gathered in front of a booth.

The central forces swung into action and dispersed the TMC supporters.

In Hooghly’s Singur constituency, polling was peaceful in all 16 gram panchayats, EC reports said.

Both the CPI(M) candidate Rabin Deb and TMC’s veteran leader Rabindranath Bhattacharya, a sitting MLA, thanked the Election Commission for the peaceful polls.

Allegations by the opposition CPI(M) and Congress that their polling agents were not allowed to enter many booths were received from many places in South 24-Parganas, a charge denied by the ruling party.

The opposition also claimed that voters in rural areas under Caning East, Canning West, Bhangar, Gosaba and Kakdwip in the district were not allowed to cast their votes as they were threatened by TMC goons. The ruling party has denied the charge.

Central forces were not seen inside several booths in Kakdwip and Shyamnagar under Bhangar constituency, opposition parties claimed.

Police officials said two persons were arrested with revolvers in Dakshin Gajipur village under Kulpi Police Station.

Altogether 349 candidates, including 43 women, are trying their luck in today’s election across three districts – Kolkata South, South 24 Parganas and Hooghly.

About 1.2 crore voters are eligible to cast their votes at over 14,500 polling booths from 7 AM to 6 PM.

In the prestigious Bhawanipur constituency in Kolkata South, chief minister Mamata Banerjee is locked in a triangular contest with Congress heavyweight Deepa Das Munshi and BJP’s Chandra Bose, a scion of Subhas Chandra Bose.

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