Violence continues in Bengal over upcoming rural polls, TMC candidate beaten to death

“Mustafa was taken to a local healthcare centre with severe injuries on his head but the doctors declared him dead on arrival,” said a police officer.   
Remains of burnt vehicles after the recent violence during nominations for Panchayat elections, in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. (Photo | PTI)
Remains of burnt vehicles after the recent violence during nominations for Panchayat elections, in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. (Photo | PTI)

KOLKATA: As blood continued soaking the soil of Bengal before the upcoming panchayat elections with the murder of a candidate in Malda on Saturday, the state election commission moved the Supreme Court challenging the order of the Calcutta High Court which directed the state poll panel to deploy central force personnel across the state for the upcoming rural polls following reports of large-scale violence.

A total of six persons were killed since June 9, after the state election commission announced that panchayat polls in Bengal will be held in one phase on July 8. Governor C.V. Ananda Bose visited trouble-torn Bhangar, South 24 Parganas, on Friday, where three persons were gunned down on the last day of filing nominations on Thursday, and said, “Victory depends on the count of votes, not dead bodies.”

“We moved the Apex court challenging the order of a division bench of the high court. Our petition was accepted and a hearing will be held on Monday. Though the high court on Thursday directed the state poll panel to deploy central forces within 48 hours of the order, it will not be effective immediately as we have moved the Supreme Court,” said a TMC leader.

Violence continued in the state over the upcoming rural polls. Mustafa Sheikh of Sujapur in Malda, a Trinamool Congress candidate of a local panchayat, was beaten brutally when he was returning home from the local centre where nominations were being scrutinised.

“Mustafa was taken to a local healthcare centre with severe injuries on his head but the doctors declared him dead on arrival,” said a police officer.   

Though the TMC alleged Mustafa, in his late 40s, was murdered by Congress supporters, the police said they are probing the incident to ascertain whether it was fall out of an intra-party feud.

“Many workers of the ruling party are unhappy after being denied tickets in the rural polls which resulted in rivalry among the TMC supporters. We are exploring all possible aspects to find out whether Mustafa had developed any rivalry because of his candidature in the rural polls,” said a police officer.

The Congress denied any involvement of its party supporters in the incident.

In the upcoming panchayat elections, more than 17,000 candidates submitted their nominations as independent contestants which irked the ruling party TMC. In a core committee meeting of the party at Mamata Banerjee’s Kalighat residence on Saturday afternoon, she reportedly asked to deliver a message for the disgruntled who are contesting as independent candidates defying the party’s dictate.

“We are making it clear that if our party workers, who submitted their nominations as independent candidate, do not withdraw their candidature, the door for the party will remain shut for them forever,” said TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee.

Referring to the murder of the TMC candidate in Malda, Banerjee said the party wants a thorough probe into the incident.

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