79% turnout in 6th phase of Bengal polls amid stray incidents of violence

The Election Commission received a total of 1,992 complaints through various platforms on Thursday. 

Kolkata: Though there were some sporadic incidents, but in an overall peaceful day of polling on Thursday, 79.09 per cent voter turnout was recorded for the sixth phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal till 5 pm, with people from 43 constituencies across four districts exercising their franchise.

Nadia district, where nine seats went to the polls in this phase, witnessed the highest turnout of 82.67 per cent, followed by East Burdwan (8 seats) at 82.15 per cent, North Dinajpur (9 seats) at 77.76 per cent, and North 24 Parganas (17 seats) at 75.94 per cent.

As far as individual constituencies are concerned, Tehatta in Nadia district with 84.84 per cent recorded the highest voter turnout among all the constituencies. It was closely followed by Chapra in the same district which recorded a voter turnout of 84.71 per cent. 

Bhatpara in North 24 Parganas recorded only 65 per cent polling — the lowest turnout among all the 43 constituencies.

However, some sporadic incidents of violence were witnessed throughout the day in several constituencies in North 24 Parganas and Nadia districts. 

According to the Election Commission, bombs were hurled by miscreants from the Khardah Upendra Bhanj Vidyapith under the Barrackpore Assembly constituency, injuring three persons who have been admitted to the hospital. The police have arrested two persons in connection with the incident.

The second incident was reported from Bagda in North 24 Parganas in which two cops were injured while attempting to disperse a gathering near a polling booth. 

“There was an assembly of 250-odd people near two polling booths in the Ranaghat pre-primary school in Bagda. When the officials intervened, they were overpowered by the unruly mob. The OC of Bagda along with the central force personnel rushed to the spot, leading to a heated altercation followed by brick batting. The OC and a constable sustained injuries on their heads and have been admitted to the Bagda hospital. Another cop sustained minor injuries in the incident,” a senior police officer said.

“For the sake of self-defence, the state police fired three rounds that injured a man named Buddha Santra. Another person, Mrityunjoy Santra, was also injured and it is not yet confirmed whether he sustained bullet injuries,” the officer added. 

The ADG (law & order), Jagmohan, said that 16 persons have been arrested in connection with specific cases while 17 persons were arrested for violation of Section 144. Another 162 persons have been nabbed under other the preventive sections. The police have also seized and destroyed nine bombs.

The Election Commission received a total of 1,992 complaints through various platforms on Thursday. 

When asked about lesser turnout in some constituencies such as Barrackpore (67 per cent) and Bhatpara (65 per cent), the state Chief Electoral Officer, Aariz Aftab, said that the poll panel will analyse the matter. 

In the sixth phase of polling, 7,466 (51.56 per cent) booths out of 14,480 polling stations were monitored live through webcasting. Drones were also used to keep watch over the proceedings.

The total number of electorate, including service voters, in these 43 constituencies is 10,409,948, including 5,342,702 males and 5,066,990 females. There were 14,480 polling booths, including 10,897 main and 3,583 auxiliary booths. 

Considering the violence witnessed in the previous phases of polling, the Election Commission had deployed 779 companies of central forces for the sixth phase, with special emphasis on the Barrackpore Police Commissionerate area (107 companies), as it had witnessed sporadic violence during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

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