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15 May 2017

Voting peaceful in hills

DARJEELING, EOI, 14 May 2017: Election to the seven municipalities of Bengal was a contrast in nature. Civic bodies of Raigunj, Pujali and Domkal saw wide spread violence whereas in the hills the election passed off peacefully without any untoward incidents.

According to the last update by the Darjeeling district municipal officer, Darjeeling saw a turnout of 60 percent, Kurseong, 66 percent and Mirik 72 percent. The voter turn-out in Kalimpong district at 5 pm was 57 percent.
Joyoshi Dasgupta, the district election officer said the election passed off peacefully on whole barring an incident of an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) mal-functioning which was repaired immediately.
“Normally election in the hills is peaceful, which also was the case, today. There were no incidents of violence or booth capture,” she said.
The TMC party said it was a historic election and thanked the state government for maintaining law and order. “This (election) was a historic event. It was the first time political parties participated openly without fear. Credit must go to the state government and chief minister Mamata Banerjee for restoring democracy in the hills. We are confident of winning,” said N.B. Khawas, the hills TMC working president who also contested from ward 20 of the Darjeeling municipality.
The ruling Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) party thanked voters for turning out in booths to support the statehood demand and rubbished the TMC claim of restoring democracy. “Look at Domkal, Pujali and Raigunj where TMC is ruling. Their cadres were armed with bombs and guns. If the TMC comes to power here then they will destroy the democracy and peace of the hills which we have maintained,” said Roshan Giri, the GJM general secretary and expressed confidence of a hundred percent win in all the four hills municipalities.
Jana Andolan Party (JAP) president Harka Bahadur Chhetri was also optimistic of victory in Kalimpong. “We worked well for the poll and reached out to people with logical issues. We are sure of doing well in Kalimpong. We however will have to look out for the GJM as they and the ruling party and will use every means to thwart us,” he said.
Darjeeling SP Amit Javalgi said one person was arrested from ward 10 of Darjeeling municipality attempting to cast false vote and a police case has been started. “We arrested Ranjita Thami of Ging tea estate who has come to vote in the name of Aneesha Pradhan. She was detected by a TMC polling agent. This apart there were no untoward incidents,” he said.
Voters turned up in small droves to cast their votes braving slight drizzle throughout the day. However the percentage of voting was less owing to migration of urban residents to cities for jobs.
Market and shops, barring few remained closed for the poll. Vehicles however plied normally and tourists many of whom surprised by the peace they were seen enjoying the open space of the town. “I wish elections took place like this alsobin Kolkata. It does not look like if an election is taking place. It’s very peaceful. In our place election means violence and unrest,” said Tanushree Roy from Ballygunge. 

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