BJP MP Locket Chatterjee’s car – and those belonging to the press – were allegedly attacked by a mob of angry locals at polling booth No 66 in Bengal’s Hooghly district on Saturday morning, where voting for the fourth phase of what has been a volatile and tense Assembly election began at 7 am.
In visuals shared by news agency ANI, a black sedan – believed to be Ms Chatterjee’s car – is seen pinned down by a sea of furious men and women – many of whom are without masks, and showed no regard for social distancing – shouting in Bengali and pointing fingers at the car’s occupants.
The 60-second clip showed dozens of people clashing with police and security personnel, some of whom had riot shields and were desperately trying to push people aside to clear a path for her car.
#WATCH BJP leader Locket Chatterjee’s car attacked by locals in Hoogly during the fourth phase of West Bengal assembly elections #WestBengalpic.twitter.com/aQAgzWI94v
— ANI (@ANI) April 10, 2021
“They’ve broken my car… am at booth No 66. They grabbed my jacket and attacked my car… I’ve also been hurt by pieces of glass. Then they media persons to get out of their cars and beat them,” Ms Chatterjee told an election official via a phone call.
“A lot of our (BJP) workers are still there… Please send CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) there immediately… some media persons are also still stuck,” she added.
#WATCH West Bengal: BJP leader Locket Chatterjee speaks to an Election Commission official over phone, says that she was attacked by locals at polling booth no.66 in Hooghly. She also says that journalists have been attacked too and demands that additional forces be sent here. pic.twitter.com/rrgGpFxfHT
— ANI (@ANI) April 10, 2021
Ms Chatterjee is the Lok Sabha representative from Hooghly, which was once a Trinamool stronghold before the BJP muscled in.
She is, however, now standing as the MLA candidate for this election.
In other visuals also shared by ANI, taxis hired by media outlets were shown parked by the side of a road with shattered windshields and windows.
Meanwhile, in Cooch Behar district, where too polling is ongoing, where BJP and Trinamool workers clashed, five people have been shot dead after central forces allegedly opened fire.
Voting for the fourth phase of the Bengal election – which has seen the ruling Trinamool and the opposition BJP – wage a crass campaign – began this morning with Ms Chatterjee, Union Minister Babul Supriyo and state ministers Partha Chatterjee and Arup Biswas among those contesting.
Wary of violence the Election Commission has posted around 80,000 personnel from the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to guard the nearly 16,000 polling stations in use.
Each of the three earlier phases, and the build-up to the polls as a whole, has seen some measure of violence, and allegations of either one party sponsoring or engineering attacks on the other.
On April 6, while voting was on for the third phase, Trinamool leader Sujata Mondol claimed to have been chased by a lathi-wielding mob while visiting a polling booth in Arambagh. She was reportedly hit on the head, and accused the BJP of creating chaos and threatening voters.
Apart from the violence, the election has also been marred by claims of booth capturing and vote-tampering; during the third phase an election official was suspended after leaving an EVM (electronic voter machine) overnight at the home of a relative – a Trinamool leader.
Bengal election results will be declared on May 2, with the results of four other Assembly polls – Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry – to be announced on the same day.
With input from ANI