Kolkata: Sporadic violence was reported in the first phase of Panchayat elections in West Bengal covering three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, where 25 to 30 percent polling was recorded in the first four hours of voting.

"We are getting reports of sporadic violence and scuffles in some places, especially Sabong," State Election Commission, Secretary, Tapas Ray said. The police said that 11 people were injured in a clash between Trinamool Congress and Congress workers at Sabong in West Midnapore district.

The injured included a TMC Gram Panchayat candidate. Five of the injured were taken to the Midnapore Sadar Hospital, the police said.

In another incident, Opposition leader and CPM politburo member Surya Kant Mishra was involved in an altercation with local TMC supporters outside a polling booth at Khadurdah Gram Panchayat area in West Midnapore district.

Police sources said that Mishra had an altercation with a group after coming out of the booth where he went to cast votes but he was not manhandled. He was later escorted to his car, they added.

SEC officials said that till 11 am, 30 percent voter turnout had been recorded in West Midnapore while 25 percent each in Bankura and Purulia.

The entire Jangalmahal area has been put under a strict security blanket for the last few days with central forces patrolling the area. A helicopter has been kept ready in the West Midnapore district, in case an emergency security situation arises, as the area was till recently a Maoist stronghold.

TMC candidate casts another man's vote

A TMC candidate on Thursday courted controversy after he was caught on camera voting on behalf of an "inebriated" voter in the West Bengal Panchayat polls.

Jawaharlal Bagdi was seen casting the vote of a man whose hands were trembling. The incident happened in Jhalda in Purulia district. "The man asked me to cast his vote as he was drunk and his hands were trembling. I did that as he is a Trinamool supporter and would have voted in our favour," Bagdi said later.


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