Bengal Polls: Stones 'pelted' at Shahnawaz Hussain in Howrah, Trinamool denies charges

The BJP leader posted on social media a video in which he was seen showing two stones to the officer on duty and blaming the TMC for the alleged incident.
Shahnawaz Hussain (File | PTI)
Shahnawaz Hussain (File | PTI)

KOLKATA: BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain alleged that stones were pelted at him in Howrah on Tuesday night when he was campaigning for the West Bengal assembly election.

The BJP leader posted on social media a video in which he was seen showing two stones to the officer on duty and blaming the TMC for the alleged incident.

"TMC workers pelted stones on me while I was addressing a meeting at Muzzafar Chowk," Hussain tweeted, saying he was safe and the party workers had lodged a complaint.

"It's clear that TMC knew it is losing and hence is becoming desperate," Hussain said.

"I myself went to the Golabari Police Station & asked them why police personnel were not deployed according to my Y + CRPF cover security protocol. Strangely, they had no answers for that."

In his complaint, Umesh Rai, the BJP candidate from Howrah North, named few persons behind the attack, alleging they were all known TMC men in the area.

Police confirmed the lodging of the FIR and visit of Hussain to the station, adding that the alleged incident was being investigated.

The TMC denied any involvement of its workers and said the BJP was staging a "drama" to get attention as the roadshows and meetings of the saffron party were "failing" to draw crowds.

Earlier on Sunday, a roadshow attended by Hussain and Domjur assembly candidate Rajib Banerjee was stopped by police at Bankra area on the ground that there was no earlier permission.

Both Banerjee and Hussain had protested the action of police.

Action will be taken against those who were involved in assault on candidates in some constituencies during the third phase of assembly elections in West Bengal on Tuesday, Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab said.

Aftab said his office has received a total of 1,802 complaints during the day and arrested 11 people for their alleged involvement in the attacks on candidates.

"Polling was more less peaceful barring some sporadic violence. There have been some incidents of assault on candidates and we have sought reports. Action will be taken against those who are found guilty," he said.

In the third of the eight-phase elections, 31 constituencies went to polls in three districts Howrah (Part 1), Hooghly (Part 1) and South 24 Parganas (Part 2).

The Election Commission has also suspended four officials in connection with the recovery of three Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and four Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) from the house of an alleged TMC leader in Tulsiberia in Uluberia Uttar (SC) assembly constituency, the CEO said.

He said three home guards who were on duty there have been demobilised.

Though the seals of the EVMs and VVPATs were "intact", the machines will not be used any further, he said.

Referring to the assault on Trinamool Congress candidates Sujata Mondal, Nimal Maji and Najmul Karim as well as BJP candidates Papiya Adhikary and Swapan Dasgupta, Aftab said, "Necessary and prompt action have been taken and investigation is underway".

ADG (Law and Order) Jag Mohan said video footages are being probed and those found guilty will be treated as per the law.

Asked whether the EC has received any complaint regarding sexual assault of a Class 10 student allegedly by a central force personnel in Tarekswar late on Monday, the CEO said an FIR has been lodged and a probe initiated.

"The personnel has been immediately removed from the posting," he added.

The poll panel on Tuesday also removed returning officers in eight constituencies of Kolkata to conform to regulations.

Aftab said West Bengal registered at least 77.68 per cent voters' turnout till 5 pm on Tuesday.

Voting in 16 seats in South 24 Parganas district (part II), saw 76.68 per cent votes being cast by 5 pm.

While 77.93 per cent votes were cast in seven seats in Howrah (part I) and 79.36 per cent in eight in Hooghly (part I), they added.

"Voter turnout of 77. 68 per cent was recorded till 5 pm in 31 seats," an EC official said.

Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, however, alleged "blatant misuse" of central forces to "influence voters".

"The blatant misuse of Central forces continues unabated. Despite us repeatedly raising this issue, @ECISVEEP continues to be a mute spectator, while men in uniform are being misused at several places to openly intimidate TMC voters and influence many to vote in favour of one party," she tweeted.

Police arrested five persons -- three members of the TMC and two of the BJP -- for their alleged involvement in assaulting TMC candidate Sujata Mondal in Arambagh earlier on Tuesday, an officer said.

Television grabs showed the TMC leader being chased in an open field by people wielding sticks and iron rods and then hitting on the head with sticks.

Her security officer was also injured.

The TMC claimed that BJP "goons" didn't allow the party's agents inside the polling stations.

The BJP, on the other hand, accused Sujata of entering the area with TMC "goons" and creating unrest by threatening people.

Police also said they had launched a search for those who assaulted BJP candidate from Uluberia (Dakshin) assembly seat Papiya Adhikary when she went to Uluberia hospital to call on an injured party candidate.

The attacks were part of a series of clashes which were reported from several parts of Bengal, where polling is underway in the third phase of assembly elections.

BJP candidate for Tarakeshwar Swapan Dasgupta was also allegedly abused by TMC supporters while going on a round of polling stations, party sources said.

TMC candidate Dr Nirmal Maji claimed that he was "heckled" by BJP supporters and his vehicle vandalised when he tried visiting a booth in Uluberia (Uttar) constituency.

In Khanakul, TMC candidate Najmul Karim was allegedly beaten up by the BJP activists and slogans were raised against him.

Later, central forces rescued him from the area.

In Falta, a BJP candidate's vehicle was attacked.

At least one person was injured when crude bombs were lobbed outside a polling station in the Canning Purba assembly seat.

TMC candidate Shaukat Mollah accused Abbas Siddiqui-led Indian Secular Front (ISF) of having organized the attack, a charge denied by the party.

In some of seats in South 24 Parganas, TMC and ISF candidates clashed in some areas, including the Mandirbazar area, where 12 persons were injured.

TMC turncoat and BJP candidate from Diamond Harbour seat, Dipak Haldar, alleged that his former party stalled voters from casting their votes.

In the Dhanekhali seat, state minister Asima Patra accused central forces of high-handedness and alleged that voters were stopped by BJP "goons" from reaching polling stations, an allegation dismissed by the saffron party.

A BJP supporter's family member was allegedly killed in Hooghly district, hours before polling in the area, police said.

Madhabi Adak succumbed to her injuries sustained while protecting her son from a few men who barged into their house, they said.

In Durbrajpur, clashes broke out between the BJP activists and the police after the latter tried to recover the body of a saffron party worker found this morning.

Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab has sought reports from poll personnel on all poll related violence which occurred on Tuesday, officials said.

Banerjee later, while addressing a rally, claimed BJP activists were forcibly occupying polling booths and attacking TMC members, including party candidates, while asserting that she would not be bogged down by "intimidatory tactics".

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh dubbed the allegations as baseless and instead claimed that people had resisted TMC's efforts to unleash a reign of terror.

The violence occurred despite the Election Commission imposing prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in all constituencies, after declaring them as 'sensitive'.

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