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Malda: After the bloodied Panchayat poll on Monday (14 May), the re-polling held today in 572 polling booths across Bengal too has been marked by violence.

This is despite the state police bosses talking of tightened security arrangements for the re-poll after the loss of at least 24 lives during and after the voting on Monday.

Ratua-I block in Malda today stole the show as regards the blatant manifestation of muscle power and violence during the re-polling today. At polling booth 79 located at Bakhra village under Baharal gram panchayat, the voting was held up for hours as a gang of armed miscreants decamped with the ballot box.

The miscreants, around 100 in number and wielding firearms, forayed into the polling booth asking the voters and the polling officials to step aside. Scared by this, the voters, the polling officials, and even the policemen deployed to secure the polling booth fled at once.

The gang then picked up the ballot box and walked away while firing in the air and lobbing crude bombs all around so to deter anyone how might try to stop them. The news reached senior administrative and police officials after the gang left the area.

Sajalkanti Biswas, the SDO of Chanchal sub-division, arrived at the polling booth leading a large posse of police personnel. The ballot box was recovered subsequently from a nearby field and the voting resumed.

But by then there was hardly any voter at the polling booth to exercise their franchise.