India election: Violence in West Bengal and Kashmir mars second day of world's biggest vote

Adam Withnall
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India election: Violence in West Bengal and Kashmir mars second day of world's biggest vote

India election: Violence in West Bengal and Kashmir mars second day of world's biggest vote

Sporadic violence and some disappointing turnouts have marred the second day of voting in India’s mammoth general election.

The worst clashes were seen in West Bengal, where rival party activists came to blows, a candidate’s car had its windows smashed and a number of electronic voting machines (EVMs) were broken.

Unlike on day one of the vote, no one was reported to have been killed in the violence. But the clashes, on a day when only three of the state’s 42 constituencies were contested, are likely to lead to increased security measures in the coming weeks.

The clashes in Chopra, Darjeeling meant that scores of people were unable to reach the polling station. Ajay V Nayek, a police official, said across the state polling was “overall peaceful”, and that those who were turned away were later escorted by security forces to cast their ballots.

More than 155 million people were eligible to vote across the 13 states where polling took place on Thursday, and turnouts varied hugely across the country.

In Srinagar, Kashmir, where separatists had called for a boycott of the election, just over 12 per cent of those eligible had cast their votes by 3pm, with only a few hours left before polling closed. That compared to some seats where the number was well over 70 per cent.

A police official told Reuters there had been “at least 40” separate incidents of stone-pelting directed at the security forces, who are ubiquitous in the valley at the best of times and were on high alert for the day’s voting.

Police deployed tear gas and baton charges in downtown Srinagar as protesters tried to disrupt the vote, officials said. At most polling booths, armed security personnel and election officials vastly outnumbered voters.

Away from those hotspots, however, the day’s voting appeared to pass without serious incident. In Manipur, voters complained that chief minister N Biren Singh turned up in the afternoon and jumped the queue - reportedly skipping past some people who had been waiting since 7am.

And at a Delhi press conference to announce a BJP candidate for a later phase, a protester pelted the ruling party’s spokesman and MP GVL Narasimha Rao with shoes. Rao immediately dismissed his assailant, who was bundled out by security, as being “Congress-inspired”.

Here’s the run-through of the day’s election events, as they happened.

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