The Indian state of West Bengal saw a fresh wave of election violence as five more people were killed on Saturday, including four shot dead by paramilitary troops “in self-defence”, officials said.

The eastern state has seen thousands killed in decades of political violence, with a history of violent election clashes. The current state election campaign has triggered a deadly wave of clashes between rival parties.

The latest reports of violence come from Coochbehar district, 700 kilometres north of Kolkata, as a crowd of around 400 people surround troops guarding a polling station. 

“Paramilitary troops opened fire in self-defence after being challenged by over 400 people,” a senior Election Commission official said. “They also formed a ring around the troops and tried to snatch rifles […] Four people were killed in the shooting.”

BJP leader and the Indian premier Narendra Modi said that the Mamta Banerjee [Chief Minister of West Bengal] “and her goons provoked the paramilitary forces to open fire”.The comments came while he was addressing an election rally in Siliguri.

Meanwhile, a man was shot dead on the same day in a different part of the state in clashes between supporters of Banerjee’s All India Trinamool Congress and Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), police said.

“The victim was a BJP supporter,” local party chief Dilip Ghosh told AFP. “Three people who were injured in the clash were admitted to a local health facility.”

Banerjee, one of Modi’s most prominent critics, has accused the BJP of attempting to import divisive sectarian politics into the state, which has a large Muslim minority.


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