KOLKATA: Twelve people were killed Monday in clashes between rival political groups vying for village council seats in eastern India, police said.
Ballot boxes were set ablaze and gunshots fired in West Bengal state, which has a history
of fractious politics and polling violence.
Anuj Sharma, a senior state police officer, said violence began almost as soon as voting got underway in the “panchayat” elections, the most local tier of governance in India.
“Crude bombs were found near several polling booths in the districts,” Sharma said.
Twelve people were killed, he said, while five local journalists were injured trying to cover the melee.
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party blamed West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress Party for the deadly clashes.
The Trinamool party, led by firebrand Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, sought to play down the violence.
“Every death is a tragedy,” Derek O’Brien, a Trinamool leader, wrote on Twitter.
“Yes, few dozen incidents. Say, 40 out of 58000 booths. What’s (the) percentage?”
More than 60,000 security personnel from West Bengal and neighbouring states were deployed to oversee security for the polls.—AFP