Armed men raids counting centre, ballots stamped

Saheb Ghosh, Trinamul supporter, stamps ballots at the counting centre
Nadia: Armed men allegedly backed by Trinamul raided a counting centre at Majhdia on Thursday, forced out the polling officials and the agent of an Independent of a panchayat seat and stamped the ballots to nullify the votes cast in favour of him as a mob kept watch outside.
The incident - the first of its kind in recent memory across Bengal, according to officials and political leaders - has prompted the state election commission to suspend the counting of votes for the particular seat of Shibnibas gram panchayat.
The rigging took place in the presence of police and polling officials and sources said it had taken 30 minutes for them to react to the situation.
The sources said the mob had stormed the counting centre at Sudhir Chandra Lahiri College as Independent candidate Niladri Sukul was leading over his Trinamul rival Partha Ghosh.
The college was the counting centre for gram panchayat, panchayat samiti and zilla parishad seats of the entire Krishnaganj block.
It was around 11.50am on Thursday when a group of miscreants allegedly led by Trinamul worker Saheb Ghosh stormed the counting centre and he stamped the ballots.
Sources said most of the miscreants who had entered the counting hall 6 at the college had been engaged by the local authorities as food and water suppliers. The miscreants also broke the fences separating counting tables so that they could enter the section where the votes for the particular seat were being counted.
"They kicked and pushed four officials and one of them started stamping 117 ballots which were in favour of the Independent with a rubber stamp," an eyewitness said.
A large number of alleged Trinamul workers were standing outside the counting centre when the vandalism and the rigging were happening.

"They were wielding bamboo poles and bursting bombs to create panic. Police lobbed 10 tear gas shells to disperse them, said an election agent.
Independent candidate Sukul said: "The vandals thrashed officials and kicked me out of the hall. They took more miscreants inside and CCTV connections were cut off. Their goal was to cancel my ballots by stamping them again to ensure my defeat."
A few hundred villagers backed by the Opposition and armed with bamboo sticks chased away the mob assembled outside the counting centre. The police swung into action and dispersed the villagers.
Following the raid, the counting was hampered for two hours. But the authorities have cancelled the counting for Sukul's seat.
The Nadia district administration has lodged a complaint against Saheb Ghosh.
"It is a crime. We have lodged a complaint against the miscreants and told the police to arrest him (Ghosh) immediately," Nadia district magistrate Sumit Gupta said.
Later, the police arrested the Trinamul candidate, Partha Ghosh, and Saheb Ghosh.
An official engaged in the counting said: "Police officers remained silent when the miscreants went on the rampage inside the counting centre. They didn't intervene despite repeated pleas. The miscreants snatched over 400 ballots and 117 of them were stamped. The remaining are still missing."
The Nadia district president of Trinamul, Gourishankar Dutta, said: "It is a very unfortunate incident. We condemn it."
Asked if Saheb was a Trinamul worker, Dutta said: "I will have to check whether he is a party worker. If he is, steps will be taken against him. I have sought a report from the local block committee president."
CPM district secretary Sumit De said: "It is quite clear that Trinamul activists were desperate to win the polls."
Nadia superintendent of police Santosh Pandey did not take calls.

The Telegraph

Armed men allegedly backed by Trinamul raided a counting centre at Majhdia on Thursday, forced out the polling officials and the agent of an Independent of a panchayat seat and stamped the ballots to nullify the votes cast in favour of him as a mob kept watch outside.

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