HomeLatest NewsDeadly violence rocks West Bengal during state polls

Deadly violence rocks West Bengal during state polls

Kolkata: Fresh deadly violence rocked the restive state of West Bengal as India held its biggest democratic exercise in two years with 175 million people eligible to vote in five regional elections.

The votes were being held even though India is experiencing a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, with several regions imposing restrictions on activities.

West Bengal in eastern India was the most important, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist BJP party attempting to win power there for the first time in what would be a major symbolic victory.

The state, home to about 90 million people, has seen thousands killed in decades of political violence, and the current campaign has triggered deadly clashes between supporters of the BJP and the ruling TMC party.

BJP trying to wrest power from Mamata Banerjee’s party in India’s eastern state

The TMC, headed by fierce Modi critic Mamata Banerjee, has accused the BJP of attempting to import divisive sectarian politics into the state, which has a large Muslim minority.

On Tuesday two people were killed including the mother of a BJP supporter and a man in his 30s who was a member of the TMC, police said.

Shots were fired outside several polling stations during clashes in areas outside the state capital Kolkata, leaving at least 20 people injured, police said.

Voters were being intimidated into staying away from polling stations “in hundreds of villages”, Dilip Ghosh, a senior local BJP member, told AFP.

Because of the need for extra security, West Bengal has spread its election over eight phases culminating on April 29.

The north-eastern state of Assam, home to 32 million people, was also holding the last out of three phases on Tuesday, with the BJP vying to hold on to power. AFP

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