Asansol: Police charge batons on protesters at Jemua Bhadubala Vidyapith at Pandabeswar in Asansol, West Bengal on April 29, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

Kolkata, April 29: A Union Minister was attacked, Central forces fired in the air after Trinamool Congress backed villagers vandalised a booth, while there were reports of clashes, intimidation and booth capturing as violence overshadowed all other developments in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal on Monday.

Union Minister and BJP candidate from Asansol, Babul Supriyo’s car was vandalised allegedly by stone pelting Trinamool Congress supporters, but the Minister escaped unharmed with only the rear glass of the vehicle being damaged.

Trouble erupted at Asansol’s Barabani after Supriyo went inside a polling booth to ensure his party agents were allowed inside.

“They are trying to stop me. But they won’t be able to stop me like this. I will move to ensure that BJP agents are allowed,” Supriyo said before leaving the area.

“These men are attacking my car and saying I am resorting to hooliganism. It is a ploy to confine me at a place but I will move,” he said.

Asansol: Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Babul Supriyo’s car that was vandalised during the fourth phase of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in West Bengal’s Asansol on April 29, 2019. The incident took place in the Barabani area after he went inside a polling booth to ensure that his party agents were allowed inside. The rear glass of the vehicle was shattered. (Photo: IANS)

The BJP leader also alleged that his polling agents were not being allowed entry.

While Trinamool workers alleged that Supriyo and his men had manhandled them, Election Commission (EC) sources said a detailed report has been sought on the matter.

Later in the day, Supriyo was heckled by agitators backed by state’s ruling Trinamool at Raniganj. Slogan-shouting Trinamool activists and supporters were seen surrounding him at Raniganj while he was moving from one booth to other.

“I am disappointed with the role of the central forces, though they have tried. Taking the party’s agent to polling booth is not the central forces’ job. Local police should look at whether people go out to cast their votes. The system is flawed. It is sad that the central forces did not work properly,” he said.

The Union Minister alleged that the central force personnel were “offered food and greeted” last night by the Trinamool leaders.

Supriyo also accused the Trinamool activists of capturing booths. “We are demanding a repoll,” he said.

Supriyo later tweeted that three booths (no 169, 113 and 218) under the Raniganj assembly segment had been captured.

The polls were stalled in a booth at Oduma under the Dubrajpur assembly segment of Birbhum constituency where Central forces fired in the air after irate villagers allegedly owing allegiance to the Trinamool Congress vandalised the booth.

The villagers clashed with the security forces following a dispute over the depositing of mobile phones, officials said. The CRPF personnel fired in the air to control the situation.

However, Trinamool’s Birbhum constituency candidate Satabdi Roy alleged that two persons – a woman and a youth – were injured in the firing by the Central paramiliatary troopers.

An angry West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said law and order was a state subject and Central forces have no right to “fire or resort to baton charge”.

“Law and order is not a central subject. Even if they want to parade, they have to take the state police along with them. We know the law. The BJP is forcibly misusing the law,” Banerjee said.

She also lashed out against the EC, saying the poll panel has no faith on the state police.

Reports have poured in about electoral irregularities in Monday’s polling covering eight constituencies spread across the districts of Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan East and Burdwan West and Nadia.

One of the tweeple Avinash Kumar Pandey, tweeted a video of how a booth is being captured:

In the Baharampur Lok Sabha constituency, sitting MP and senior Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury accused the Trinamool workers of preventing voters from coming to the polling stations in certain areas.

Chowdhury and Congress leaders accompanying him chased and caught a person purportedly indulging in proxy voting in the Krishnanath College booth, but a crowd of Trinamool workers managed to free him.

Reports of booth capturing and intimidating voters were reported from at least three booths in Birbhum district’s Rampurhat and at Ketugram in East Burdwan.

Opposition parties alleged that Trinamool supporters attacked women voters on their way to the polling booths. Central forces rushed to the spot and dispersed the crowd.

Clashes between supporters of different political parties were reported from Birbhum’s Nalhai and Nanur – areas notorious for political violence.

Villagers at Law Bagan in Birbhum’s Suri were allegedly locked up in a house by Trinamool activists to prevent them from voting, locals said, adding that their electoral photo identity cards were also snatched.

EC officials later entered the village and security personnel took the voters to the polling stations.

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