MIDNAPORE/KOLKATA, March 27: Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from various places that went to polls on Saturday during the first phase of Bengal Assembly polls, even as the overall poll situation was largely peaceful with 79.79 per cent turnout recorded till 5 pm, an official said.

Voting was held in 30 seats – several of them part of the once-Naxal-hit Jangalmahal region – amid tight security and strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines, the Election Commission (EC) official said.

Of the 30 seats that went to polls, 9 are in Purulia, four each in Bankura and Jhargram, 6 in Paschim Medinipur, and 7 in high-stakes Purba Medinipur district.

“Till 5 pm, 79.79 percent polling has been recorded in the State. By and large, elections were held peacefully,” the EC official said.

Violence and scuffle, however, marred the polling process is some areas.

In Purba Medinipur district voters protested outside a poll booth over alleged malfunctioning of an EVM.

The agitators blocked a road outside a polling station at Majna, claiming that the VVPAT slip showed results in favour of a particular party, no matter which outfit they voted for. A contingent of Central forces was sent to the area to control the situation, an EC official said, adding that the VVPAT machine was eventually replaced.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, during a rally in West Midnapore, claimed that the BJP has manipulated EVMs and used Central forces to intimidate the voters.

“Today, in some polling booths of Kanthi, the VVPAT showed that votes were getting polled in favour of the BJP, even as a person pressed the button next to the symbol of some other party. In some areas, Central forces were seen threatening voters,” she said.

BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s younger brother Soumendu claimed he was attacked in Kanthi by TMC supporters. He also alleged that his car was vandalised, and his driver sustained injuries in the attack.

At Mohonpur, four persons were injured in clashes between workers of the TMC and the BJP, after alleged attempts to capture booths were made by some of them. – PTI