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Communists condemn 'cold-blooded murder of democracy' in West Bengal

Opposition campaigners burnt to death as Trinamool Congress bludgeons its way to re-election

COMMUNISTS have condemned the “the cold-blooded murder of democracy” in West Bengal, where at least 12 people have been killed, including opposition party activists burnt to death, during election campaigning.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury accused the police of being “in complete cahoots” with the “barbarity” of the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Polling booths across West Bengal were attacked on Monday, with the TMC accused of initiating violence to intimidate voters and disrupt local council elections.

He reported how armed TMC-linked gangs captured hundreds of booths in almost all districts, chased away voters and cordoned off villages to force people to remain indoors.

“Opposition polling agents were driven out from booths. Ruling-party goons fired on people, hurled bombs, in many cases snatched ballot boxes,” Mr Yechury said.

Bombs were found at three polling stations, authorities confirmed, with the same number also discovered planted on railway tracks in the region.

TMC officials downplayed the clashes, with spokesman Partha Chatterjee claiming: “Other than a few violent incidents, the voting is being conducted peacefully.”

But Mr Yechury reported the “bloodcurdling and gruesome incident” of two CPI(M) members being burnt to death in an arson attack on a building in the Parganas district.

TMC leader Arabul Islam was arrested on Friday in connection with the killing of a supporter of a rival candidate at a campaign rally. A police search discovered “a large number of bombs” in an area behind the the home of Mr Islam and they are currently searching for the TMC leader’s son and brother for alleged involvement in the shooting.

Voting took place in 20 districts across West Bengal with results due tomorrow.

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