As the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal took place on Friday with three constituencies going to polls, sporadic violence gripped Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Alipurduar in the northern part of the State.

In violence-prone Cooch Behar constituency, complaints of widespread electoral malpractices poured in after workers of the Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party clashed with each other throughout the day. 

Allegations and counter allegations of violence, booth-jamming, assault, and intimidation were reported from almost all parts of the parliamentary constituency, where Nisith Pramanik, the incumbent BJP MP and Union Minister, contested against Jagadish Chandra Barma Basunia of the TMC.

Bombs were reportedly recovered from Dinhata in Cooch Behar district. Sitalkuchi again saw major violence during the polling. During the 2021 Assembly polls, four youth were killed in a CISF firing in Sitalkuchi. 

“Trinamool Congress has indulged in violence due to fear of losing the polls. They have tried to snatch the people’s democratic rights. But they will not be able to succeed,” Pramanik told reporters, alleging that West Bengal minister Udayan Guha provoked Trinamool workers to attack BJP supporters. 

Interestingly, Pramanik had written to the Election Commission, requesting that Guha be confined to his booth on the day of elections in the Cooch Behar constituency.

Guha, a senior Trinamool Congress leader, on Friday accused BJP of instigating violence during the polling. “The BJP carried out planned atrocities against our workers after making the appeal before the EC to control my movements,” he said.

The Election Commission of India deployed as many as 112 companies of central armed forces in Cooch Behar constituency, the highest among all three seats.

“Central forces are being used as BJP cadres. Why are elections being conducted in Cooch Behar with only central forces? There is no state police,” said Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo.

Reports of violence and complaints of electoral malpractices also came from Jalpaiguri constituency. Both the BJP and Trinamool accused each other of intimidating their workers and supporters.