Opposing parties blamed each other for inciting violence in the battlefield state’s Cooch Behar district.
According to police, at least 5 people have been killed by shooting during election-related violence in the Indian state of West Bengal.
The AP news agency quoted senior police Vishal Garg as saying four people died and four others were injured near a polling station in Cooch Behar district on Saturday when security forces opened fire to control the crowd. He did not elaborate on what caused the clashes.
In another incident, unidentified gunmen shot at voters at another polling booth in the same county, killing one person. Garg said police are investigating the attack.
Local elections in West Bengal, India’s fourth most populous state with 90 million people, are being held in eight phases. Voting in the four Indian states and a united territory began in late March and lasted for more than a month. The results will be announced on May 2.
Security arrangements have been tightened and nearly 80,000 security personnel were deployed over 16,000 polling stations in West Bengal for Saturday’s vote, the report said.
The eastern state, which has Kolkata as the regional capital, has previously been affected by election-related violence, including deadly clashes between supporters of rival political parties.
The vote is seen as a competition between the state’s ruling Trinamool All-India Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (BJP).
Foreign Minister Mamata Banerjee confirmed Saturday’s death, even as rival parties blamed each other for inciting violence and demanding an Election Commission investigation.
Elections are seen as an important test to see if the BJP can win a foothold in the northeast and south. The Hindu nationalist party controls dozens of India’s 28 states, with coalition partners in several other states, but it has never gained power in West Bengal.
Modi and his top leaders campaigned vigorously to take power from the Trinamool Congress.
A defeat for Banerjee, a powerful Modi critic, would deal a blow to the country’s already weak opposition.
Modi’s overall popularity remains unprecedented in India, but his party has faced tougher challenges than expected in recent state polls.