Repolling for the panchayat elections was held at 696 booths across West Bengal on Monday, a day after the polling process was declared void due to allegations of violence and electoral malpractices.

The panchayat elections, which took place on July 8, were marred by widespread violence. At least 20 persons have died in poll-related violence till Monday, according to The Indian Express. Incidents of destruction of ballot boxes and intimidation of voters were also reported in some areas of the state.

The State Election Commission ordered repolling at 696 booths in 19 districts on the basis of reports of violence and tampering with ballot boxes and ballot papers, PTI reported. The highest number of such booths was in Murshidabad district (175), followed by Malda (109).

Repolling was held at 89 booths in Nadia, in Cooch Behar, 46 in North 24 Parganas, 42 in Uttar Dinajpur, 36 in South 24 Parganas, 31 in Purba Medinipur and 29 in Hooghly.

The voting began at 7 am and ended at 5 pm. A turnout of 53.9% was recorded till 3 pm, according to PTI. Voting began late at some booths because ballot boxes did not arrive on time.

The results of the panchayat election will be announced on Tuesday.

Tight security arrangements was in place, with four personnel from central security forces deployed at each booth along with the state police.

No major incidents were reported from the places where repolling is underway, an unidentified State Election Commission official told PTI. “A couple of stray incidents happened and those were managed by the police,” he said.

A road was blocked in Nadia district’s Tehatta, while voters protested outside a booth in Purba Medinipur district’s Mayna, the official added.

According to the State Election Commission, the final turnout at the panchayat elections held on July 8 was 81%, The Times of India reported. The highest turnout was reported from the Purba Medinipur district (84.7%), followed by Birbhum (83.1%) and Bankura (83%).

Deaths due to poll-related violence

The toll due to election-related violence in West Bengal rose to at least 20 on Monday with the deaths of three more persons, according to The Indian Express. All three succumbed to injuries that they had sustained on July 8.

A Trinamool Congress worker named Maidul Sheikh on Monday succumbed to his injuries at Kolkata’s NRS Medical College and Hospital. He had sustained the injuries during a clash between Trinamool Congress and Indian National Congress members in the Murshidabad district.

Another Trinamool Congress worker named Sirajul Shaikh, who was beaten up allegedly by Congress workers in the Murshidabad district’s Raninagar town, died on Monday.

In the Nadia district, the father-in-law of a Communist Party of India (Marxist) candidate, who was assaulted allegedly by Trinamool Congress workers on July 8, also succumbed to his injuries, The Indian Express reported.

The police on Monday also found the body of Astha Mondal, the brother-in-law of BJP candidate Sangeeta Mondal, in the Nadia district. He had been missing for several days.

It is not currently clear whether Mondal was a victim of the election-related violence.

Of those killed in the poll violence, at least 12 were linked to the Trinamool Congress and at least two were linked to the Communist Party of India (Marxist). One party worker each died from the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the Indian Secular Front. A supporter of an independent candidate was also among those who died.

Political parties, however, claim that the toll could be higher.

The ruling Trinamool Congress has alleged that the Opposition parties were “marketing” the violence to discredit the polls.

“The Opposition parties are making an effort to paint the entire election process as violent, but the credit for the largely peaceful and fair polls goes to the general public,” Trinamool Congress leader Kunal Ghosh said. “Most of the deaths reported are of Trinamool workers, so if Trinamool was instigating the violence, why would they target their own workers?”

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