One jawan on poll duty was killed and two others were injured in a gunfight at a central force base camp in West Bengal’s Howrah district on Thursday. Lakshmikant Barman, an Assam Rifles jawan, opened fire at his colleagues at the Bagnan base camp in Howrah. One jawan identified as Bholanath Das died in the shootout. Barman allegedly fired 18 rounds. Others injured have been identified as Anil Rajbanshi and Rantu Mani. The accused has been taken into custody. Central forces have been deployed in the region ahead of Lok Sabha polls for the Howrah constituency, which votes on May 6 in the sixth phase of elections. Results will be declared on May 23.
The shootout comes day after the Election Commission on Wednesday announce that only central security forces, not state police, will be deployed at all polling booths in West Bengal for the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha Elections on May 6 next week. Though it is still not clear if the Thursday’s incident has any political reason or not.
“Total of 578 companies of central forces are being deployed for 5th phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2019. 100% polling stations will be covered by central forces as static postings,” said Vivek Dubey, Special Police Observer for West Bengal on Wednesday. “In addition, 142 Quick Response Teams, manned by central forces, also will be ready to reach any place of incident,” Dubey had added.
Bengal has witnessed several clashes during polling in last one month. The fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections was also marred by multiple incidents of clashes and violence in West Bengal, where an estimated 76.66 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in eight parliamentary constituencies on Monday. An electorate of 1,34,56,491 cast ballot to decide the fate of 68 candidates in Baharampur, Krishnagar, Ranaghat (SC), Burdwan East (SC), Burdwan-Durgapur, Asansol, Bolpur (SC) and Birbhum. Clashes broke out between supporters of rival parties in Nanoor, Rampurhat, Nalhati and Suri areas of Birbhum seat, leaving several people injured and disrupting the polling process for a quite some time.