Shri Nilotpal Basu, Central Secretariat member of Communist Party of India (Marxist) met the Chief Election Commissioner today and submitted the following memorandum regarding the violence and irregularities in some Assembly Constituencies where polling was held today in West Bengal. We are herewith releasing the text of the memorandum.
We are pained to have experienced what the voters of West Bengal suffered in course of elections to 31 Assembly Constituencies which went to polls for West Bengal Assembly. There have been widespread intimidation of voters, violence, obstructing voters from going to the polling booths, mounting attacks on opposition polling agents. Even the leader of the opposition of the current Assembly and Secretary of the CPI(M) West Bengal State Committee, Dr. Suryakanta Mishra was hackled in his Assembly Constituency Narayangarh. Most of the mainstream media, both electronic and print, have come out with graphic coverage of these extremely unseemly spectacle.
One of the major reasons that these disturbances could take place is inactivity and deliberate misuse of central forces. Despite repeated assurance from ECI, central forces were not used for area domination before the polling day and were virtually kept idle during the polling. It is unfortunate that there reports that central forces failed to intervene even when violence and attacks occurred in their presence.
However, what was most unacceptable was the attitude of the officials manning the electoral machinery. Despite repeated complaints, they were not responding; often switching off their mobile phones. There have been few instances where even central observers would not be contacted. But the most monumental lapse was on the question of deployment and disability of Central Forces for building confidence of the voters so that they could exercise their franchise in a free and fair manner. This is notwithstanding the consistent position of the ECI that there will be adequate deployment and no miscreant will be able to disrupt the free and fair polls.
In Paschim Midnapore, the role of observers was surprising particularly in Keshpur, Garbeta, Chandrakona, Dantan. They were unavailable in mobiles, or failed to respond to calls. Sector officers were brushed away complaints with a predetermined answer that ’no such incident took place’.
Widespread violence and booth capturing took place in 235-KeshpurAC. AITC created an atmosphere of terror in villages for last two-three days. This was reported to CEO office but no intervention was witnessed. Today (11.4.2016) CPI(M)polling agents were not allowed to seat in 110 booths from the beginning. They were forcefully evicted from most of the others after few hours. Bike-borne AITC gangs roamed freely and attacked CPI(M) polling agents, threatened voters, restrained villagers from coming to booths. More than 146 booths were fully captured till 13-30 PM, the list of which has been already sent to your office. There was no semblance of free and fair elections in the entire constituency.
In 232- Chandrakona AC, AITC gangs brought criminals from outside and threatened and chased away voters in nearly 60 booths. They have attacked CPI(M) polling agents, injuring some of them. Large areas of the constituency were terrorized and voters could not proceed to polling booths at all.
In 233- Garbeta AC, AITC created terror to restrain CPI(M) polling agents to reach to booths. In 109 booths, opposition polling agents were not allowed to enter at all. Series of booths were captured and villagers were forced to stay indoors.
In 228-Kharagpur AC, CPI(M) candidate Sajahan Ali was repeatedly cordoned by AITC activists, wherever he went. Ali was forced to sit back in CPI(M) office.
In 227 Pingla AC, at least 14 booths were captured by AITC gangs.
In 231 Ghatal AC, outsiders were mobilized by AITC, mainly in villages in Hooghly border. They created terror in 34 booths in border areas. Booth no 9,10,11, 12 were badly affected.
Reports of violence and attack on voters have come from226- Sabang AC, 225- Narayangarh AC, 223-Keshiary AC. There is considerable apprehension that AITC will try to disturb many booths in last few hours of polling.
Nearly 30 booths in 258- Sonamukhi (SC) AC and 20 booths in 257-Indas (SC) AC were either captured or disturbed by AITC activists. Villagers were restrained from approaching booths. CPI(M) polling agents were threatened and attacked in some areas.
In 275 Pandaveswar AC, at least 10 booths were disturbed. AITC gangs threatened voters. In 283 Barabani AC, outsiders were mobilized and restrained voters in some places. In 289 JamuriaAC, CPI(M) candidate Jahanara Khan was threatened by AITC. In 276 Durgapur Purba, normal voting process was disturbed after 12 PM in 15 booths, the list has been sent to your office.
We are also appending a gist of incidents which took place Assembly constituencywise and boothwise in a tabular form (Annexure I).
We are also appending all the complaints received from our different Party committees for your perusal and necessary action (Annexure II). Each of these are self contained and self explanatory. We want justice for the people and we want remedial action for incidents which had undermined the right to exercise their voting rights without fear or intimidation. Not to speak of, where actual booth capturing has taken place. We will definitely furnish a comprehensive list of the booths where a re-poll is warranted once the polling is closed.
Member, Central Secretariat