ADVERTISEMENT

West Bengal

Heavy turnout of voters in first phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam

More than 80.92 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in the first phase of polling in the elections to the legislative assembly of West Bengal and 78 percent in Assam amidst tight security on Monday.

More than 80.92 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in the first phase of polling in the elections to the legislative assembly of West Bengal and 78 percent in Assam amidst tight security today.
 
Polling was by and large peaceful in both the states, with no major untoward incident reported from anywhere, official osurces said.
 
In West Bengal, voting was held today in 18 constituencies in Phase IA of polling. They include six seats in Paschim Medinipur, nine in Purulia and three in Bankura district.
 
These constituencies have a total electorate of 40,09,171 voters, including 20,47,202 men and 19,57,453 women. There are 4500 service electors in these constituencies.
 
There were a total of 133 candidates in these constituencies, including 11 women.
 
The Election Commission had set up 4945 polling stations and made elaborate arrangements to ensure a smooth poll in these constituencies.
 
As many as 65 constituencies went to the polls in the first phase of voting in Assam. There were 566 candidates in all, including 44 women. Prominent candidates in the fray included Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress, who is seeking a fourth conseccutive term, and Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the chief ministerial candidate of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 

16 dead, 63 injured as under-construction flyover collapses in Kolkata

At least 16 persons died and 63 others suffered injuries when an under-construction flyover, which has been more than six years in the making, collapsed in the busy and congested Bura Bazaar area of north Kolkata on Thursday.

 
Kolkata: 10 dead in under-construction bridge collapse
 
At least 16 persons died and 63 others suffered injuries when an under-construction flyover, which has been more than six years in the making, collapsed in the busy and congested Bura Bazaar area of north Kolkata today.
 
Police sources told NetIndian that the 16 dead included 14 men and two women, all of whom were crushed under the tonnes of concrete and steel that came crashing on them around 1215 pm today without any warning.
 
They said nearly 60 others had been taken to various hospitals in the city for treatment of injuries.
 
Officials feared the number of casualties could increase as search and rescue teams made their way through the mangled steel and concrete through the night.
 
Army personnel and teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) joined the local police, the fire brigade, other agencies and hundreds of volunteers in a massive rescue effort with specialised equipment, sniffer dogs and so on.
 
Several people were feared trapped below the debris of the bridge and frantic efforts were being made to reach them without loss of time. As people dug through the rubble, they found cars, taxis and other vehicles trapped under the concrete.
 
Hundreds of people of the locality and passers-by rushed to the spot and began trying to remove the debris with their bare hands, using whatever equipment they could lay their hands on, even as the authorities made arrangements to rush cranes, gas cutters and other machinery as well as ambulancesto the scene. 
 
Scores of witnesses told journalists at the scene that they heard a loud rumble and then a massive thud as the huge bridge suddenly came down without any warning.
 
Footage from a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera in the area showed people going about their normal business and traffic moving as usual under the flyover when it suddenly came crashing down.
 
Traffic in the entire area came to a total standstill and there were traffic snarls in several nearby areas as a consequence.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was campaigning for the state assembly elections outside Kolkata, rushed back to the state capital and visited the scene of the tragedy.
 
She said stringent action would be taken against officials of the construction company, the Hyderabad-based IVRCL Limited, or any others found guilty of negligence.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in the United States on an official visit, took stock of the situation and expressed shock and grief over the incident.
 
“Shocked and saddened by collapse of under construction flyover in Kolkata. Took stock of the situation and rescue operations. 
 
"My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives in Kolkata. May the injured recover at the earliest," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was touring West Bengal as part of the BJP's election campaign, asked the Director General, NDRF, Mr. O.P.Singh, to rush rescue teams to the spot.
 
An official press release said seven NDRF teams had been deputed to the site and two more teams were being mobilized for the rescue operations.
 
"I am deeply saddened to know that precious lives have been lost in the Kolkata accident," he added.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 

Modi invokes spirit of Team India; says Centre, states must work together

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday described the Central government and the 29 state governments in the country as "30 pillars of Team India" which would together take the country forward.

 
Delhi alone will not run nation: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today described the Central government and the 29 state governments in the country as "30 pillars of Team India" which would together take the country forward.
 
Addressing a public meeting after dedicating to the nation the 2.5 million tonne modernised and expanded IISCO steel plant at Burnpur in West Bengal, he mentioned various instances of cooperative federalism of recent months, including the setting up of the NITI Aayog, and the devolution of additional revenues to the States through acceptance of the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. 
 
He also mentioned that the decades-old land boundary issue between India and Bangladesh had been successfully resolved through the same spirit of Team India, with all state governments concerned and political parties coming together to support a solution of the problem.
 
He said the nation would move ahead faster when the Centre and the states worked together.
 
"Sadly Centre-State relations were tensed for a long time. I have been Chief Minister for a long time and I know that such behaviour will not be good. We have brought in a change, we focused on co-operative federalism. Delhi alone will not run the nation," he said.
 
"India will not change without a 'Team India'. The Prime Minister and Chief Ministers are one team that will take India ahead. The nation is bigger than any party," he said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Mr Modi said the time had now come for India to address the issue of "geographical imbalance" along with the economic and social imbalances. He said that eastern India, too, should develop as fast as western India is developing, and for that, development of West Bengal is essential. 
 
"The eastern part of India has immense potential. The people are also skilled," he said.
 
He said District Mineral Foundations would be set up to help speed up progress and welfare of the poor in mineral-rich districts. He said that, within a year, the atmosphere of gloom in the country had lifted, and all global rating agencies were now agreed that India is among the world's fastest growing economies.
 
"A year ago the world had a different perception about India. Now the world says in one voice that India is a fast growing economy," he added.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

See News Videos

Modi "deeply concerned", asks for report on Nadia nun's gang-rape, Hisar church attack

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced deep concern about the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at Nadia in West Bengal recentlyand the attack on a church at Hisar in Haryana and sought an immediate report on the incidents.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced deep concern about the alleged gangrape of an elderly nun at Nadia in West Bengal recentlyand the attack on a church at Hisar in Haryana and sought an immediate report on the incidents.
 
"PM is deeply concerned about the incidents in Hisar, Haryana and Nadia, West Bengal," the Prime MInister's Office (PMO) said on micro-blogging site Twitter today.
 
"PMO has asked for immediate report on facts & action taken regarding the incidents in Haryana and West Bengal," it added.
 
A 71-year-old nun was allegedly gang-raped by dacoits at a convent in Nadia district in the early hours of Saturday. The incident has triggered protests in West Bengal and the state government has ordered a probe by the CID in the case.
 
In the second incident, a church under construction at Kaimri village near Hisar in Haryana was vandalised by a group of people on Sunday.
 
Both the incidents have evoked widespread condemnation across the country, with the Christian community expressing serious concern about the safety of churches and other institutions.
 
NNN
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 

See News Videos

Polling underway for 41 seats in final phase of LS elections

Polling was underway on Monday amidst tight security in 41 constituencies spread over three states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal -- in the ninth and final phase of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha.

 
Ninth phase of 16th LS polls underway
Polling was underway today amidst tight security in 41 constituencies spread over three states -- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal -- in the ninth and final phase of elections to the 16th Lok Sabha.
 
Thousands of voters turned out to exercise their franchise in these constituencies and long queues of voters  were seen at many polling stations despite the sweltering heat,
 
All eyes were, however, on Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the second constituency from which BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is trying to make his maiden entry into the Lok Sabha. His main rivals in Varanasi are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal and local Congress leader Ajay Rai.
 
Mr Modi is also in the fray from Vadodara in Gujarat, where polling was held on April 30.
 
Around 1.6 million people are eligible to cast their votes in Varanasi in what is clearly the keenest contest of the 2014 elections. There were long queues of voters outside polling stations in most areas of the city.
 
The authorities have deployed around 45,000 security personnel to ensure free and fair polls in the constituency. More than 12,000 polling booths were put under surveillance with CCTV cameras and proceedings at more than 300 polling stations were being videographed.
 
The Election Commission has deployed Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar as a special observer for the constituency following complaints of bias against the local election officials by the BJP. Several senior police officers of Uttar Pradesh are also camping in the city.
 
The constituencies that voted today included 18 in Uttar Pradesh, 17 in West Bengal and six in Bihar. They have a total of 66.13 million voters and there were 606 candidates in the fray.
 
The first phase of polling in the long drawn out election process was held on April 7. Counting of votes for all constituencies will be taken up on May 16 and all results are expected by that evening. Two members in the 545-member Lok Sabha are nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian community.
 
Other prominent candidates in the fray in Uttar Pradesh include Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo and former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav from Azamgarh and UP Legislative Assembly Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey from Doomariaganj.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs R P N Singh is contesting from Kushinagar and popular Bhojpuri film actor Ravi Kishan from Jaunpur, both on the Congress ticket. Veteran BJP leader Kalraj Mishra is contesting the Deoria seat. Quami Ekta Dal (QED) leader Mukhtar Ansari, who withdrew from the contest in Varanasi and later announced his support for the Congress, is in the contest from Ghosi.
 
In Bihar, the prominent candidates include well-known Hindi filmmaker Prakash Jha, who is trying his luck yet again, this time as a Janata Dal (United) candidate, and former Union Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
 
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has fielded former Union Ministers Sudip Bandopadhyay, Dinesh Trivedi in Barrackpore and Sougata Roy in Dum Dum and actors Dipak Adhikari (Dev) from Ghatal and Tapas Paul in Krishinagar.
 
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has put up Ms Subhashini Ali against Mr Trivedi in Barrackpore, while the BJP has fielded well-known magician P C Sorcar (Junior) in Barasat. West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury is the party's candidate in Berhampore.
 
The TMC had won 14 of the 17 seats that went to the polls today in West Bengal in the 2009 elections, while the CPI, SUCI and Congress had won one each. The TMC and the Congress were in an alliance then. The CPI (M) had not won a single seat from these in 2009.
 
There are a total of 328 candidates, including 18 women, in the 18 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, which have a total electorate of 31.6 million voters.
 
In Bihar, more than 8.8 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the six constituences which have a total of 90 candidates in the fray.
 
The 17 constituencies that went to the polls in West Bengal have a total electorate of  25.61 million and 188 candidates in the fray.
 
NNN
ADVERTISEMENT
 

See News Videos

Indefinite nationwide truck strike begins

ADVERTISEMENT
Truck owners and operators launched an indefinite nationwide strike on Monday against increasing diesel prices and a sharp hike of third party insurance premium.
 
"The indefinite strike against the soaring diesel prices and steep rise in the third party insurance premium begun this morning. About 90 lakh trucks are expected to be off the road and as of now, over 60 per cent trucks were not plying on the roads across India," the All India Confederation of Goods Vehicle Owners' Associations President Channa Reddy told IANS.
 
"The government's argument is that the fuel price increase was due to international prices. However, we think the reason for price increase is not due to international prices but high taxes levied by the governments, Centre and the states," Reddy said.
 
Demanding the inclusion of diesel prices or petroleum products in the ambit Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators' Association Joint Secretary Sajal Ghosh said there has been a good response in the state where about 3.5 lakh trucks would not ply on the roads.
 
He said the Federation is also protesting police and Motor Vehicle Department officials' alleged excesses in the state.
 
Moreover, truck owners requested the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India to detariff the third party insurance premium as it has done in the case of comprehensive insurance policy, Reddy said.
 
"Since the trend of annual increase of third party insurance premium has been continuing for last 15 years even after opening of the insurance sector. To stop the increase per year, we have requested the IRDAI to detariff this. But, the authority has not responded to our demand," Reddy added.
 
The strike is likely to cause a hike in prices of perishable goods due to supply constraint.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Indian Navy anchors burning merchant vessel SSL Kolkata at the Ganges Delta

ADVERTISEMENT
In a daring and complex operation, the Indian Navy succeeded in anchoring a merchant vessel that caught fire, at the Ganges delta, a Defence Ministry press release said today.
 
SSL Kolkata had been on fire since the last two days. It was abandoned by the 22 crew members on  June 14 off the Sagar Island at the mouth of the Ganges delta.
 
A Marine Commando Officer winched down to the ship by a Seaking 42 C helicopter from the Eastern Naval Command ascertained the conditions in the forward part of the ship and later called in the helicopter to lower on board three crew members.  
 
The team managed to drop the starboard anchor to prevent the ship from further drifting. Thereafter, the team prepared the seamanship gear for the ship to be towed if required.
 
The nature of the threat was evident from the explosion on board in the forenoon which restarted the fire. The helicopter recovered all four members of the team and was returning to the base, the release added.
 
Earlier, Vice Admiral Karambir Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command had directed that the ship’s drift towards the Sundarbans delta had to be stopped at all costs notwithstanding the high temperatures on board to avoid an ecological disaster should the ship capsize on the sandbanks causing pollution from oil it carried on board.
 
Accordingly, a Seaking 42C helicopter and a Dornier aircraft were despatched from Visakhapatnam with a core team comprising divers, Marcos, shipwrights and seamanship specialists to stage through the IAF airbase at Kalaikonda.
 
Simultaneously, the Naval Officer-in-charge, West Bengal, contacted the officials of the DG Shipping, ICG, KOPT, the ship owners, Agents and Salvage specialists at Kolkata and kept them informed of the plans.
 
INS Kadmat, which was exercising in the Bay of Bengal on June 15, was directed to proceed at best speed and arrived on site at first light this morning to augment the onsite support with the Indian Coast Guard ships also standing by.
 
The operation has successfully managed to arrest further drift of the ship to enable salvage operations by the company.
 
NNN
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Container ship on fire in Bay of Bengal, 22 crew members rescued

ADVERTISEMENT
The Indian Coast Guard on Thursday rescued all 22 crew members of a merchant container vessel after a devastating fire broke out in the ship in the Bay of Bengal, a senior coast guard official said here.
 
The container ship, MV SSL Kolkata, that was on its way to the city, had gone ablaze on Wednesday night, the officer said.
 
"Our Coast Guard ship arrived in the area in the morning. The captain decided to save the crew and abandon the ship. On his request, we have successfully picked up all the 22 survivors. As of now, all 22 people are being brought to Haldia in the coast guard ship," Coast Guard Commander (NE) Inspector General K.S. Sheoran said here.
 
"The sea was very bad at the accident site. There were high waves and the wind was very strong. Almost 60-70 percent of the ship was on fire by that time," he said.
 
The reason of the fire is still not confirmed.
 
According to the Coast Guard, the owners of the ship, Shreyas Shipping & Logistics have hired tugboats from the nearby ports that would work on salvage operation of the remaining goods, unaffected in the blaze.
 
"The owner of the ship has hired big tugboats from Haldia port and Dhamra port in Odisha. They have also engaged salvage companies from Singapore. The salvage operations will start after sometime. The first priority was to save the captain and the crew, which the coast guard has done successfully," the officer added.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

RPF constable's gun goes off in Kolkata metro station, 3 injured

ADVERTISEMENT
Three persons including a child got injured after the rifle of a Railway Protection Force (RPF) constable went off during change of duty at the Dumdum Metro railway station premises here on Friday afternoon, police said.
 
Kolkata Metro General Manager Ajay Vijayvargiya has ordered a "high level inquiry" into the incident and promised stringent action against those found guilty, an official said.
 
The incident happened at around 1.45 p.m. near one of the ticket counters at the metro station when an RPF constable was handing over his rifle to another as his duty got over.
 
"The rifle of an RPF constable got accidentally dropped on the ground while changing hands inside the Dumdum Metro station premises. The bullet rebounded from the floor of the station complex. A woman and her son sustained splinter injuries in the incident," said Kolkata Metro CPRO Indrani Banerjee.
 
A metro employee also got hit in the process, she said.
 
According to an eye witnesses, the splinters of the bullet brushed the hand of Sonarpur resident Sangeeta Basu before hitting the leg of her nine-year-old son Saptarshi Basu, who were standing in a queue to buy tickets.
 
Following the incident, panic gripped the commuters as well as hundreds of passengers of adjoining Dumdum railway station.
 
The injured mother and son were rushed to the nearby RG Kar Medical College and Hospital.
 
"None of the injuries were serious. They were released from the hospital after first aid," a metro official said.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Gohain flags off Santragachi-Chennai Central Antyodaya Express

ADVERTISEMENT
Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain flagged off the new weekly 22841/22842 Santragachi-Chennai Central Antyodaya Express  yesterday.
 
Train N0.22841 will depart from Santragachi, in neighbouring  Howrah  district, on Monday at 1900 hours and arrive at Chennai at 2245 hours on Tuesday.
 
Train no. 22842 will depart from Chennai at 0810 hours on Wednesday and arrive at Santragachi at 1025 hours on Thursday.
 
The journey time from Santragachi to Chennai, covering a distance of 1656 km is 27 hours and 45 minutes and from Chennai to Santragachi, 26 hours and 15 minutes.
 
The 18-coach train has 16 General coaches and 2 Power Cars. It will stop at Kharagpur, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur Keonjhar Road, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Khurda Road, Balugaon, Chatrapur, Brahampur, Sompetta, Palasa, Srikakulam Road, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Duvvada, Anakapalle, Samalkot Jn., Rajahmundry, Eluru, Vijayawada, Chirala, Ongole, Nellore, Gudur, Sullurupetta. The coaches in Antyodaya Express are fully unreserved LHB second class coaches.
 
It has several new amenities including cushioned luggage racks which can serve as seats, additional handholds in doorway area, vestibule for movement of the passengers between the coaches, potable drinking water dispenser, mobile charging points, Fire Extinguisher with anti-theft lock and FRP (Fibre Reinforced Plastic) Modular Toilets.
 
NNN
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

EC to go by law on poll notifications, rules out return of ballot papers

ADVERTISEMENT
Amid reports of possibility of early Lok Sabha elections, Chief Election Commissioner of India (CEC) Om Prakash Rawat on Saturday said the Commission will abide by the law and can issue a notification for election to any House "not before six months" of the expiry of that House.
 
"Law says the Election Commission can issue notification for election to any House not before six months before the expiry of that House. That is the legal binding on the Election Commission," he said at an interactive session organised by the Merchants' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).
 
Rawat also said the Commission is the authority to decide the schedule for elections.
 
When asked whether the Commission has received any suggestion regarding advancing the 2019 general elections, he said: "Absolutely not! The Election Commission will go by the law. I have explained the law... If the law requires that within six months you have to hold elections, you have to hold."
 
Ruling out any possibility of bringing back ballot papers for elections, he said the electronic voting machines (EVMs) were being made a "scapegoat" as the machines cannot speak and political parties needed to blame someone or something for their defeat.
 
He said the panel had last July announced at an all-party meeting that all elections henceforth would be conducted using EVMs coupled with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.
 
VVPAT is also being used along with EVMs for enhanced transparency and credibility in the voting process, he said, adding that sometimes machines may malfunction due to mistakes of operators.
 
"Political parties add fuel to this fire because they do not want to accept this. They do not want to introspect and this (EVM) is the easiest scapegoat. It cannot speak," he said and claimed that India's conduct of free and fair elections is admired all across the world.
 
"There is absolutely nothing about the integrity of the system... However, time and again there are eruptions on this, and we clarify the issue," he said.
 
Responding to a query on the idea of simultaneous elections, Rawat said: "The Election Commission was asked about this idea in 2015. The Commission gave all the suggestions to the government. It requires changes in the Constitution and also in law. Logistic support will also be required. We gave suggestion to the government. After that, we are not aware (of it). Recently, the Law Commission met the Election Commission."
 
Speaking on electoral bonds, he said the Commission is gathering facts and information to crystallise its view on this.
 
"As soon as we complete this, we will be communicating to government and will put our views in public domain," Rawat added.
 
He also said the Commission has delisted more than 1,000 political parties in the last two years for being inactive for a long period and not taking part in the election process.
 
"The Supreme Court held that the Election Commission cannot de-register political parties. However, the EC has started a process of delisting those political parties which are totally inactive or not taking part in election process," he said.
 
"In the last two years, more than 1,000 political parties have been delisted. The process is going on," Rawat added.
 
Referring to the incident of data harvesting by Cambridge Analytica from various social media platforms for profiling the behaviour of the voters, formulating targeted communications so as to make voters vote in a manner which is desirable for their clients, he said the Commission is "working on this issue".
 
"The Commission has set up a social media hub... We are working on the issue. The Commission is also working for a code of conduct for all social media platforms so that we can prevent data harvesting," he said, adding that the threat is "huge".
 
After the success of a mobile application that enabled people to share complaints with evidence during the Karnataka elections, the Commission will use the app in the upcoming polls.
 
"The application will help people to share complaints with evidence. We have used the application during Karnataka elections. Over 780 videos were received by the Commission. We are giving power to common people to check wrongdoing... People will become policemen in the election process," the Chief Election Commissioner said.
 
"It is a success. It will be used everywhere," he added.
 
According to Rawat, the application has a feature to identify latitude, longitude of the area and concerned constituency. It can also identify election officials concerned, so that the complaints are addressed.
 
The Commission would ensure that the identity of the complainant is not disclosed, he said.
 
IANS
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Life partially affected in Bengal due to BJP strike

ADVERTISEMENT
Life on Sunday was partially affected in West Bengal's Purulia district due to a 12-hour strike called by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after two of its party workers were allegedly murdered within a span of three days.
 
The body of 32-year-old Dulal Kumar was found hanging from a high-tension tower in Dabha village on Saturday morning.
 
Claiming that the victim was a prominent party worker, the BJP accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of his murder and sought a CBI probe into it.
 
The body of a 20-year-old BJP worker named Trilochan Mahato was also found hanging from a tree in Balarampur arear of the same district last week with a message inscribed on the back of his T-shirt, accusing him of supporting the BJP.
 
The Trinamool has, however, denied its involvement in either of the incidents. The state government has handed over the probe to the Criminal Investigation Department.
 
"Law and order situation has been under control. The strike has affected the life partially," a police official of Balrampur police station said.
 
Most shops remained shut. Private transport vehicles were not seen on the roads while state-owned transport vehicles were spotted running on the roads.
 
The  twin deaths caused tension in the Balrampur area and also in the district and the West Bengal BJP had held demonstrations protesting against the killing of their youth activists.
 
The BJP also demanded imposition of President's rule in the state, as party chief Amit Shah alleged that the Mamata Banerjee government had completely failed to maintain law and order.
 
Purulia S.P. Joy Biswas on Saturday claimed that preliminary investigation suggested the death of Kumar was a case of suicide.
 
Following this statement, Biswas was transferred by the Mamata Banerjee government to the post of Commanding Officer of State Armed Police 9th Battalion and Akash Magharia was given charge as Purulia SP.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Youth found hanging in Bengal, BJP says victim party worker

ADVERTISEMENT
A 32-year-old youth was found hanging from a high-tension tower in Dabha village of West Bengal's Purulia district on Saturday morning, police said.
 
Claiming that the deceased was a prominent party worker, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blamed the ruling Trinamool Congress for his killing and sought a CBI probe into it. It also demanded imposition of President's rule in the state.
 
Dulal Kumar's death comes close on the heels of the murder of a BJP worker Trilochan Mahato in the area.
 
The Trinamool has, however, denied its involvement in either incident. The state government has handed over the probe to the Criminal Investigation Department.
 
"Last night, around 8.00 p.m, in Daba village under Balarampur Police Station, Kumar had gone towards the pond to respond to the nature's call. But since then he was missing.
 
"This morning, his body was found hanging from a tower," said a senior district police officer, who said that preliminary investigation suggests it to be a case of suicide.
 
"We have conducted a thorough probe and it seems to be a case of suicide. The body has been taken for post-mortem examination. Once autopsy is completed, we can say for sure exactly what happened to him," said the officer.
 
He said so far the police had not found any political angle in the case.
 
Disputing the police version, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said: "The way our leader Trilochan Mahato was hanged, Dulal has also been hanged at Balarampur.
 
"The ground has slipped from under Trinamool's feet in Purulia. Balarampur is a Maoist-prone area. Trinamool has taken help of Maoists to perpetrate these kind of atrocities on BJP workers.
 
"We condemn these incidents and demand CBI probe into both killings," said Sinha.
 
Union Minister Babul Supriyo blamed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her government for the "violent situation" in the state.
 
"The pre-panchayat poll, polling day and post-poll violence prove the situation has turned violent in West Bengal. Who else but the government, the Chief Minister and those around her can be held responsible.
 
"The only medicine for the malady is invoking Article 356 in the state. How we can go about it, you will see in the coming days. You will see a very strong action soon."
 
Three days back, 20-year-old Mahato, who was missing since the night before, was found hanging from a tree, with a message scrawled on his T-shirt that read: "This is for doing BJP politics from age 18."
 
A poster found near his feet said: "Was trying to murder you since the (panchayat) vote. Today, you are dead."
 
The police officer said Mahato had gone missing after he went to the market and his body was found hanging from the tree the next morning.
 
"We have started a case under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code. The preliminary investigation shows there is an angle of personal enmity and personal grudge. We are conducting a thorough probe. The real culprit will be arrested as we get some evidence," he said.
 
Mahato's killing had triggered protests by the BJP, whose leaders pointed out that their party had thrown a strong challenge to the Trinamool during the panchayat polls in the district last month.
 
But denying his party's involvement, Trinamool leader Shantiram Mahato said: "The matter has been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department. The probe will prove that we are in no way associated with the cases."
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

DRI seizes 32 kg of smuggled gold worth Rs. 10.32 crore from Siliguri

ADVERTISEMENT
Officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have seized 32 kgs of gold worth Rs. 10.32 crore, smuggled from China into India through Sikkim, from Siliguri in West Bengal.
 
This is one of the biggest seizures fo smuggled gold in the recent past in East and North-East India, an official press release said.
 
The release said the DRI had received a tip-off that a huge quantity of gold of foreign origin, that had been smuggled into India from China through the border state of Sikkim, would find its way to Kolkata via Siliguri.
 
The information said the gold would be carried by three persons who would be travelling by a hired vehicle from Gangtok to Siliguri and would thereafter go to Kolkata by train.
 
Acting on the tip off, the officers of DRI led strict surveillance over the area on Sevoke Road, Siliguri, near Payal cinema hall, where they intercepted a white Maruti Wagon R late in the night of May 31.
 
On preliminary enquiry, it was found that the Wagon R vehicle was taken on hire by three passengers. All these three passengers are natives of Maharashtra and they had hired the vehicle for their journey from Siliguri to Gangtok and back, the release said.
 
The three intercepted persons admitted that they were carrying on their persons gold bars of foreign origin that had been smuggled into India from China. They were taken to DRI office at Siliguri where, on search, three specially-tailored cloth belts having several pockets and secured by metal zip fasteners were found to be fastened around their waist. On opening of the belts, a total of 32 pcs of primary gold bars bearing foreign inscription were recovered. Each of the gold bars was found to weigh 1 kg, bringing the total haul to 32 kg, the release said.
 
According to it, the intercepted persons were found to have a temporary residence at Siliguri, which was searched by the DRI officers yesterday and Indian currency worth Rs. 20.19 lakh was recovered. The men said this was part of the sale proceeds of smuggled gold.
 
The release said that, in the current financial year, the DRI had seized more than 137 kg of gold and smuggled jewellery, valued at close to Rs. 24 crore in the market, smuggled from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and China from West Bengal and the North-Eastern states. In the previous financial year, 2017-18, DRI had seized close to 430 kg of gold and gold jewellery, valued at more than Rs. 100 crore from the region, it added.
 
NNN
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Lightning strike kills six in Bengal

ADVERTISEMENT
At least six people were killed in lightning strikes across West Bengal as heavy showers and thunderstorms swept the southern parts of the state on Friday, an official said.
 
Two persons each were killed in Nadia and West Midnapore districts while two more lost their lives in Birbhum and West Burdwan, an officer from state police control confirmed.
 
The death toll may rise as other parts of the state were also largely affected by the pre-monsoon showers since Friday afternoon.
 
The regional meteorological department has predicted more rainfall in the southern Bengal districts over the next two days.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Modi, Hasina discuss bilateral issues, security at Santiniketan meet

 
Modi, Sheikh Hasina inaugurate Bangladesh Bhavan in Santiniketan
 
 
The Prime Ministers of India and Bangladesh on Friday discussed a number of bilateral issues, including security and politics, in the sylvan surroundings of the Visva-Bharati University here founded by Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore - the composer of both countries' national anthems.
 
The half-hour talks were preceded by two events -- the 49th convocation of the university, as also the inauguration of the Bangladesh Bhawan on its campus by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.
 
The two leaders, accompanied by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, spent over three hours at this campus housing the university and located in Birbhum sub-division of West Bengal's Birbhum district, 160 km from Kolkata.
 
Modi set the tone for the talks during his address at the inauguration of the Bhawan, when he remarked that the two countries have scripted the golden chapter in their relations over the past few years.
 
He mentioned the Land Boundary Agreement and the resolution of the sea border dispute, saying "complex bilateral issues which seemed impossible to be resolved even some time back, have been solved now. In roads, rail, waterways, coastal shipping, we are moving fast in the areas of connectivity."
 
On the other hand, Hasina paid glowing tributes to India, and its then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for its role during her Bangladesh's liberation struggle, and the shelter that she provided to her after the assassination of her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman - the leader of the Bangladesh liberation war and first president of independent Bangladesh.
 
She also expressed happiness over the two countries implementing the LBA, after the Indian parliament "unanimously passed the bill concerned", and thanked Modi and Banerjee.
 
Asked about the talks at the Bangladesh Bhawan after the inauguration ceremony, a Bangladesh minister said bilateral issues were discussed.
 
"I was not there when they held the talks. But, suffice to say bilateral issues, issues related to regional security and politics were discussed," said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Shahriar Alam.
 
On Hasina seeking cooperation from everybody to put pressure on Myanmar to take back the 1.1 million Rohingya refugees, who have taken shelter in Bangladesh, he said his country was on the "same page" with India on the issue.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Alam referred to the assurances from Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her visit to Myanmar and said "she articulated India's views so that the Rohingya refugees could return safely and in a dignified manner".
 
He said track two dialogue was on regarding the Teesta water sharing issue.
 
Earlier, during her speech at the Bangladesh Bhawan, Hasina did not mention the contentious Teesta water sharing issue, but hoped that the two countries will be able to resolve all their problems amicably.
 
"We always want to walk together as neighbours. There can be issues between neighbouring countries," she said in the presence of Banerjee, known for her firm opposition to the treaty.
 
"We have resolved many issues. Maybe there are a few left. I don't want to raise the issue and spoil this beautiful function. But I do hope whatever the problem is, it can be solved amicably," Hasina said.
 
Both Modi and Hasina repeatedly referred to the shared cultural ties between the two nations, with Tagore coming up repeatedly in their speeches.
 
Modi thanked Hasina for building the Bangladesh Bhavan here, and said India on its part was renovating the Kuthibari - the house of Tagore - in Kushthia district of Bangladesh.
 
Praising Hasina and the people of Bangladesh "from my heart", Modi referred to the country launching its first satellite 'Bangabandhu'.
 
He said India was now using space technology to improve the standard of living of the poor and introduce more transparency and exuded confidence the sector will open new vistas of cooperation with Bangladesh.
 
Averring that the constant connect between him and Hasina was giving a further momentum to the bilateral relations, Modi also referred to challenges like climate change.
 
"Climate change is before us, if the burning sun is a challenge for us it can also be of advantage to us. PM Hasina has come up with a vision of 'power for all' by 2021, while in India we have set up a target of electricity to every home by next year."
 
Comparing the journey of development of the two countries to a beautiful garland with which both are attached, Modi said: "In the last few years the eternal truth emerged before us is that the friendship between India and Bangladesh is must for progress, prosperity, peace and stability, happiness and cooperation."
 
Banerjee expressed her government's desire to build a Bangabandhu Bhavan in the memory of Mujibur Rahman.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Modi won't confer awards at Vishwa Bharti varsity convocation, Mamata 'shocked'

ADVERTISEMENT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not confer Visva Bharati University's highest award Deshikottam during its convocation on Friday, the university announced on Thursday, triggering an angry reaction from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who said she was "shocked and very unhappy".
 
Acting Vice Chancellor of the university -- founded by first Asian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore -- Sabujkali Sen said the award has been deferred for "lack of time", adding such a development was not unprecedented.
 
"For the time being, due to want of time, the award ceremony is being deferred. Once in the 1960s also the same thing was done. And the eminent recipients were handed out the awards later," Sen told reporters.
 
However, Banerjee, who is here for the convocation which Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will also attend, said: "I am shocked over the development." 
 
"I am very unhappy for one reason. Those who were supposed to get Deshikottam are not getting it. I am sorry for this.
 
"The names included the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Dwijen Mukherjee, Jogen Chowdhury and I believe these people are beyond politics. They all deserve the award," she said.
 
The Visva-Bharati academic council last month passed a resolution proposing to bestow the award on Bachchan, writers Amitav Ghosh and Suniti Kumar Pathak, poet Gulzar, Rabindra Sangeet legend Dwijen Mukherjee, physicist Ashok Sen and painter Jogen Chowdhury.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Modi to visit West Bengal, Jharkhand on Thursday

ADVERTISEMENT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a day's visit to West Bengal and Jharkhand tomorrow.
 
An official press release said Mr. Modi would attend the convocation of Visva Bharati University at Santi Niketan in West Bengal. He will also inaugurate the Bangladesh Bhavan – a symbol of the cultural ties between India and Bangladesh – at Santi Niketan. 
 
The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Ms. Sheikh Hasina, will be present at both these events.
 
In Jharkhand, the Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone of various projects of the Government of India and Government of Jharkhand, at an event in Sindri. These include the revival of Sindri Fertilizer Project of Hindustan Urvarak and Rasayan Ltd.; Ranchi City Gas Distribution Project by GAIL; All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Deoghar;  Development of Deoghar Airport; and Patratu Super Thermal Power Project (3x800 MW).
 
He will also witness the exchange of MoUs for Jan Aushadhi Kendras and address the gathering, the release added.
 
Later, the Prime Minister will interact with the District Collectors of Aspirational Districts of Jharkhand, in Ranchi.
 
NNN
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Chess: Sengupta, Rozum share joint lead after fourth round

ADVERTISEMENT
Grandmasters Deep Sengupta of Kolkata and Ivan Rozum of Russia shot into joint lead with four points from as many rounds in the Kolkata International Open Chess Tournament at the Newtown School here on Thursday.
 
In a battle between two of the acclaimed prodigies of the country, Aravindh Chithambaram lost tragically to young D. Gukesh in a typical moment of blindness over the board, allowing Gukesh to join as many as 12 players on 3.5 points closely following the leaders.
 
Top seeded Nigel Short had a short 16 move draw against young N.R. Vignesh on the top board, just when it looked like the game was leading to sharp play. 
 
Short confessed that his pawn sacrifice just out of the opening was from inspiration over the board as the oncoming elections for FIDE presidency had "limited his preparation to just the first move 1.e4"!
 
The talking point of the day was the sudden meltdown of Aravindh in the last five minutes of the game, who was trying hard to provoke his younger opponent to crack under pressure while possessing an extra pawn in a drawish ending with minor pieces ending.
 
Instead, he allowed Gukesh to capture a paw on e3 with check, and resigned immediately in a moment of frustration assuming he was losing a piece on the next move. 
 
However, he overlooked a resource for himself which would have landed him in a position with equal pawns where he could defend with a rook against Gukesh's two minor pieces.
 
Rozum once again showed his finely developed technique, as he was featured in a Rook ending where he held a strategic advantage. Just like the previous round, he outplayed the Indian teenager Erigaisi Arjun with steady play to win in 42 moves from the Black side of a Catalan setup.
 
As the tournament nears the halfway mark many full-fledged fights are witnessed between players nearer to strength, typical of a chess tournament conducted in Swiss system as the 4th round itself witnessed intense fights between titled players.
 
Strong performances also came from Abhijeet Gupta who defeated Manik Mikulas in the first Grandmaster fight of the event, and IM D.V.Prasad who held R.R.Laxman to a draw thus continuing his good run in the tournament so far.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Trinamool looks set to sweep Bengal Panchayat polls, BJP in second spot

ADVERTISEMENT
The ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday looked set for a resounding victory crushing all opposition parties in rural West Bengal, after nearly 11 hours of vote count in the three-tier state Panchayat election, with the BJP emerging a distant second in almost all the districts.
 
The Left Front, which ruled the state for 34 years till 2011, lay decimated in the third position, while the Congress was virtually wiped out in Monday's polls, which were marred by widespread violence and allegations of strong-arm tactics and irregularities against the Trinamool.
 
As per latest reports, the Trinamool had won or was in the lead in over 80 per cent of the lowest tier Gram Panchayat seats, and over 90 per cent of the middle level Panchayat Samiti seats. In the top tier, Zilla Parishad, the Trinamool almost wiped out the opposition.
 
According to the latest figures, Trinamool has won in 20 out of 825 Zilla Parishad seats and is comfortably leading in another 22, while the opposition parties drew a blank.
 
The state's ruling party also has won or was ahead of its rivals in 570 Panchayat Samiti seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left Front have won or were leading in 24 and seven seats, respectively.
 
In the vote count for the Gram Panchayat, the Trinamool has already won or was leading in 16,166 seats, leaving the BJP far behind at 4,020 and the LF at 1,142.
 
The BJP, however, gave a tough fight to the Trinamool in two western districts -- Purulia and Jhargram.
 
Another interesting development was the performance of the Independents, who have bagged more seats than the LF.
 
In South 24 Parganas district's Bhangar that has been on the boil over the construction of a power grid sub-station by the state government in the last one year, Independent candidates backed by Jomi-Jibika-Bastutantra O Poribesh Rokkha Committee (committee for protecting life, livelihood, ecology and environment) won five out of the eight Gram Panchayat seats, where they had filed their nominations via WhatsApp.
 
The Panchayat Samiti was, however, won by the ruling party strongman Arabul Islam who was arrested a day before the election for his alleged involvement in the murder of a local youth.
 
The Trinamool Congress leadership refused to celebrate as a lot of counting still remained.
 
"It is a massive victory for Trinamool. The opposition thought giving outside support to the Independent candidates would reap them benefits. It has been proved wrong as all of them have been wiped clean. People voted for Trinamool Congress and its leader Mamata Banerjee," West Bengal Food and Supplies Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick said.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Sporadic incidents of unrest over the election results were reported from certain districts like Nadia where a group of miscreants allegedly ran away with ballot boxes. The counting of votes was halted for almost three hours in Nadia's Majhdia after allegations of tampering with the ballot papers were received.
 
"There are some reports of unrest in the districts but the administration concerned has already taken action. There are no reports of major violence from anywhere," SEC Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told IANS.
 
In Birbhum district, BJP and Trinamool Congress activists clashed with each other outside a counting station. The police had to resort to baton charge to disperse the mob.
 
According to the state administration, 12 people lost their lives on the polling day among which death of six people were confirmed to be due to poll violence.
 
However, opposition political parties claimed the death toll on the polling day had gone up to 21, while five more people died the next day.
 
Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of the rural local bodies, 20,076 seats, or 34.2 per cent, have been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats.
 
These include 16,814 of the total 48,650 Gram Panchayats seats, 3,059 of the 9,217 Panchayat Samiti seats and 203 of the 825 Zila Parishad seats.
 
The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in these seats.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

10 killed, 50 injured in Bengal panchayat poll violence

 
WB Panchayat polls: Clashes break out between CPI (M), BJP workers
 
 
At least 10 people were killed and more than 50 injured on Monday in violence during the West Bengal panchayat polls, where around 73 per cent of the electorate had cast their votes at the end of balloting hours at 5 pm.
 
The State Election Commission said the polling percentage was 73 at the end of voting hours, though the numbers would go up since 4.5 lakh voters were still queued up across the state.
 
"We have, so far, received telephonic complaints of six deaths. We are awaiting written confirmation from authorities on the death toll," State Election Commission Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told IANS.
 
A youth was beaten to death as he tried to enter a polling premises in Nadia district while a Trinamool Congress activist was shot dead in South 24 Parganas district's Kultali, police said.
 
The Communist Party of India-Marxist claimed one of their activists was killed in bomb attacks in North 24 Parganas district's Amdanga.
 
Three deaths were reported from Murshidabad while two were killed in East Midnapore's Nandigram. Two persons lost their lives in Nadia and North Dinajpur districts.
 
"Three youths were beaten up by locals in Nadia district's Shantipur area on Monday morning. Police rescued and got them admitted to a local hospital. One of them, Sanjit Pramanik, succumbed to his injuries," Nadia district Superintendent of Police Santosh Pandey told IANS.
 
"Trinamool Congress worker Arif Ali Gazi was shot in the chest while coming out of a polling booth. He died in a hospital," an officer from Kultali police station said.
 
Though CPI-M's North 24 Parganas leaders claimed their party activist died in Amdanga after he was attacked with crude bombs, there was no police confirmation.
 
"We have heard of the incident but it is not confirmed yet. We are going to the spot," an officer from Amdanga police station said.
 
Police sources said two people were shot in East Midnapore district's Nandigram, famous for its historic land movement against the erstwhile Left Front government. The CPI-M claimed the two dead were party activists.
 
At least seven persons sustained bullet injuries in Murshidabad's Naoda area, leading to the death of one of them. The remaining were admitted in the district hospital.
 
Earlier, polling to elect 38,616 representatives in the three tiers of Panchayati Raj institutions -- panchayats, panchayat samitis and zila parishads -- started at 7 a.m. 
 
As the day progressed, reports of clashes, booth capturing, vandalising of ballot boxes and rigging were received from pockets of South and North 24 Parganas, North Dinajpur, Nadia, West Midnapore and Cooch Behar districts.
 
In several places, gun-toting goons attacked policemen on duty at polling premises, leaving at least two police officers severely injured.
 
In South 24 Parganas' Bhangar, the 'Jomi, Jibika, Bastutantra O Poribesh Raksha Committee' (Committee for protecting land, livelihood, ecology and environment), which is spearheading an anti-power grid movement in the area, accused armed miscreants of the Trinamool Congress of kidnapping their Panchayat Samiti candidate Sariful Mullick and terrorising voters.
 
The committee alleged that their candidate Entazul Khan was severely injured in an attack by Trinamool Congress-backed miscreants and was taken to Kolkata's RG Kar Hospital.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
In north Bengal's Cooch Behar, Minister Rabindranath Ghosh was accused of slapping a Bharatiya Janata Party polling agent and forcing him out of the polling premises, following which the SEC sought a report from the district administration.
 
The Minister, however, denied all allegations and accused the BJP agent of trying to run away with the ballot box.
 
Violence also took place in East Midnapore district's Panskura and West Midnapore district's Keshpur where gun-toting miscreants gathered outside the polling stations and beat up voters.
 
Several attempts to rig the election process were also reported across the state as miscreants poured water into ballot boxes or set them on fire.
 
Initially, voting for the rural bodies was to be held on May 1, 3 and 5 but as the nomination process started in April, it was rescheduled to May 14 by the SEC following a Calcutta High Court order to extend the nomination deadline and announce a fresh polling date.
 
Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of the rural local bodies, 20,076 seats, or 34.2 per cent, have been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats.
 
These include 16,814 of the total 48,650 gram panchayats seats, 3,059 of the 9,217 panchayat samiti seats and 203 of the 825 zila parishad seats.
 
The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in these seats.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Six killed in violence, clashes during Bengal rural polls

 
WB Panchayat polls: Clashes break out between CPI (M), BJP workers
 
 
At least six people were killed on Monday in West Bengal as violence and clashes between supporters of different parties in several districts marred voting for the rural bodies.
 
"We have, so far, received telephonic complaints of six deaths. We are awaiting written confirmation," said State Election Commission Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya, who put the polling percentage till 1 p.m. at over 41 per cent.
 
A youth was beaten to death as he tried to enter a polling premises in Nadia district while a Trinamool Congress activist was shot dead in South 24 Parganas district's Kultali, police said.
 
The Communist Party of India-Marxist claimed one of their activists was killed in bomb attacks in North 24 Parganas district's Amdanga.
 
Two deaths were reported from Murshidabad district, and another from Nadia.
 
"Three youths were beaten up by locals in Nadia district's Shantipur area on Monday morning. Police rescued and got them admitted to a local hospital. One of them, Sanjit Pramanik, succumbed to his injuries," Nadia district Superintendent of Police Santosh Pandey told IANS.
 
"Trinamool Congress worker Arif Ali Gazi was shot in the chest while coming out of a polling booth. He died in a hospital," an officer from Kultali police station said.
 
Though CPI-M's North 24 Parganas leaders claimed their party activist died in Amdanga after he was attacked with crude bombs, there was no police confirmation.
 
"We have heard of the incident but it is not confirmed yet. We are going to the spot," an officer from Amdanga police station said.
 
The polling for electing 38,616 representatives in three tiers of the Panchayati Raj institutions started at 7 a.m. and will continue till 5 p.m.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
As the day progressed, reports of clashes, booth capturing, vandalising of ballot boxes and rigging were received from pockets of South and North 24 Parganas, North Dinajpur, Nadia, West Midnapore and Cooch Behar districts.
 
In South 24 Parganas' Bhangar, the 'Jomi, Jibika, Bastutantra O Poribesh Raksha Committee' (Committee for protecting land, livelihood, ecology and environment), which is spearheading an anti-power grid movement in the area, accused armed miscreants of the Trinamool Congress of kidnapping their Panchayat Samiti candidate Sariful Mullick and terrorising voters.
 
The committee alleged that their candidate Entazul Khan was severely injured in an attack by Trinamool Congress-backed miscreants and was taken to Kolkata's RG Kar Hospital.
 
Clashes were also reported in the district's Namkhana and several other areas.
 
In north Bengal's Cooch Behar, Minister Rabindranath Ghosh was accused of slapping a Bharatiya Janata Party polling agent and forcing him out of the polling premises, following which the SEC sought a report from the district administration. 
 
The Minister, however, denied all allegations.
 
Violence also took place in East Midnapore district's Panskura and West Midnapore district's Keshpur where gun-toting miscreants gathered outside the polling stations and beat up voters.
 
Several attempts to rig the election process were also reported across the state as miscreants poured water into ballot boxes or set them on fire. 
 
Initially, voting for the rural bodies was to be held on May 1, 3 and 5 but as the nomination process started in April, it was rescheduled to May 14 by the SEC following a Calcutta High Court order to extend the nomination deadline and announce a fresh polling date.
 
Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of the rural local bodies, 20,076 seats, or 34.2 per cent, have been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats.
 
These include 16,814 of the total 48,650 gram panchayats seats, 3,059 of the 9,217 panchayat samiti seats and 203 of the 825 zila parishad seats.
 
The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in these seats.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Sporadic violence, clashes mar Bengal rural polls

 
West Bengal panchayat polls begin
 
 
Sporadic violence and clashes between opposing political groups marred the initial hours of West Bengal panchayat polls on Monday.
 
The polling for electing 38,616 representatives across three tiers of state (rural) bodies started at 7 a.m. and would continue till 5 p.m.
 
According to the State Election Commission (SEC), 12.2 per cent votes were cast in the initial two hours of polling till 9 a.m.
 
Reports of clashes and booth capturing were received from pockets of South 24 Parganas, West Midnapore and Cooch Behar districts.
 
In South 24 Parnagas' Bhangar, the 'Jomi, Jibika, Bastutantra O Poribesh Raksha Committee' accused armed miscreants of Trinamool Congress of kidnapping their Panchayat Samiti candidate Sariful Mullick and terrorising the voters.
 
The committee that was formed to protect land, livelihood, ecology and environment has been spearheading an anti-power grid movement in the area and has fielded nine independent candidate in the rural polls. 
 
The committee also accused the police of not taking action against the miscreants involved in casting false votes and backing the men of Trinamool Congress leader Arabul Islam, who was arrested three days back in an alleged case of murder.
 
Clashes were also reported in the district's Namkhana and several other areas.
 
In north Bengal's Jalpaiguri, Minister in-charge of north Bengal development, Rabindranath Ghosh, was accused of slapping a Bharatiya Janata Party polling agent and forcing him out of the polling premises.
 
The SEC sought a report from the Jalpaiguri District Magistrate regarding the incident. The Minister, however, denied all allegations.
 
Incidents of violence took place in East Midnapore district's Panskura and West Midnapore district's Keshpur where gun totting miscreants gathered outside the polling stations and beat up the voters.
 
The dates of state rural polls were initially declared on May 1, 3 and 5 but as the nomination process started in April, all the opposition parties accused the Trinamool of indulging in strongarm tactics to prevent them from filing nominations.
 
The matter reached the Calcutta High Court, that subsequently stayed the polling process and asked the SEC to extend nomination deadline and announce fresh election schedule.
 
More bitter legal battles followed, at the end of which the SEC declared May 14 as the new polling date.
 
Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of rural local bodies, 20,076 seats or 34.2 per cent have already been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats.
 
These seats include 16,814 of the total 48,650 in gram panchayats, 3,059 of the total 9,217 in panchayat samitis and 203 of the total 825 in zila parishads.
 
The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in case of the uncontested seats.
 
The SEC has, on the other hand, said all arrangements had been made for providing security for the polls. Around 71,500 armed personnel were on duty, manning every booth.
 
Armed forces have also arrived from Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh to strengthen security arrangements.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

Voting for Bengal rural bodies begins

 
West Bengal panchayat polls begin
 
 
Polling for electing 38,616 representatives across three tiers to West Bengal Panchayat (rural) bodies began at 7 a.m. on Monday.
 
Long queues were seen outside several booths as people from all social and economic backgrounds patiently waited for their turn to exercise their democratic right.
 
Pre-poll surveys have predicted that the coming rural elections could provide an emphatic answer to the questions, with the BJP predicted to leave the Left Front and the Congress far behind and emerge as the main rival to the Trinamool -- which, the surveys claims, would walk away with the bulk of the seats at all three levels -- panchayat, panchayat samiti and the zila parishad.
 
As the nomination process started last month, all the opposition parties accused the Trinamool of indulging in strong-arm tactics to prevent them from filing nominations.
 
Television pictures broadcast across the channels showed groups of armed mobs gathering before the offices of the Block Development Officers and the Sub-Divisional Officers in a number of districts and stopping prospective candidates from entering the poll fray.
 
The matter reached the Calcutta High Court, and the State Election Commission (SEC) extended the deadline for submitting nominations by a day, only to reverse the order in less than 12 hours, allegedly under pressure from the Trinamool.
 
The judiciary then put a stay on the elections, then scheduled to be held on May 1, 3 and 5.
 
More bitter legal battles followed, at the end of which the SEC declared May 14 as the new polling date.
 
Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of rural local bodies, 20,076 seats or 34.2 per cent have already been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats.
 
These seats include 16,814 of the total 48,650 panchayats, 3,059 of the total 9,217 panchayat samitis and 203 of the total 825 zila parishads.
 
The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in case of the uncontested seats.
 
The SEC has, on the other hand, said all arrangements had been made for providing security for the polls. Around 71,500 armed personnel would be on duty, manning every booth.
 
Armed forces have also arrived from Assam, Odisha, Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh to strengthen security arrangements.
 
IANS
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 

10 killed as Northwester hits Bengal

ADVERTISEMENT
At least 10 persons, including five teenagers, were killed in lightning strikes as a Northwester accompanied by heavy rain lashed parts of the Gangetic West Bengal on Sunday afternoon, a state disaster management official said.
 
While four youngsters lost their lives in a lightning strike in Howrah district's Uluberia, two men each were killed in Nadia and West Midnapore's Ghatal and one in Murshidabad.
 
"A 14-year-old boy was killed by lightning at Park Circus Maidan in Central Kolkata on Sunday," Kolkata Police said.
 
"Four teenagers in the 10-15 age group were killed by lightning near Uluberia's Damodarpur while returning home through an open field. One of their friends was injured," an officer posted at the Howrah police control room said.
 
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed anguish over the recurring natural disasters and said her government would do everything possible to support the affected people.
 
"Unfortunately, there has been a lot of natural calamities this year. It is happening not just in Bengal but across the country. A few people died during the thunderstorm today (Sunday). We are monitoring the situation. Our government will provide necessary aid and support to the affected," Banerjee told the reporters here.
 
Heavy rain and thunderstorm lashed parts of Kolkata, Hoogly and North 24 Parganas district for nearly 40 minutes to an hour, throwing traffic temporarily out of gear.
 
The city recorded 23.8 mm of rainfall while North 24 Parganas district's Barrackpore recorded 68 mm rain, the highest in the state on Sunday, a MeT official said.
 
"The bad weather was not caused by any depression. It is due to Kalbaisakhi (Northwester). The weather condition is improving now but there is a chance of showers during late evening," the official added.
 
Nor'wester or Northwester is rain and thunderstorm occurring in India and Bangladesh. Kalbaishakhi occurs, with increasing frequency, from March till monsoon sets in over northeast India.
 
IANS
 
Did you like this story? Make a donation and help us to serve you better.
ADVERTISEMENT
 
Syndicate content
© Copyright 2012 NetIndian. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of NetIndian content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of NetIndian Media Corporation. Write to info[AT]netindian[DOT]in for permission to use content. Read detailed Terms of Use.