The truth of West Ben­gal booth loot video clip

Mail Today - - NEWS - By Bal Kr­ishna in Kolkata/New Delhi

WEST Ben­gal’s re­cent pan­chayat elec­tions made na­tional head­lines more for vi­o­lence than any­thing else. At least 14 peo­ple lost their lives and many oth­ers were in­jured in the clashes.

Can this hap­pen in In­dia of 2018? That’s what ev­ery­one asked. The clip of the clashes went vi­ral. Crit­ics of the state gov­ern­ment used it over­whelm­ingly as a com­pelling ev­i­dence of vote rig­ging. IN­DIA TO­DAY's ‘Vi­ral Test’ team ex­am­ined the footage closely.

Party sym­bols of the BJP, the TMC, the CPM and the Congress were clearly vis­i­ble on the pa­per bal­lots. A bun­dle of pink-coloured bal­lots — used in pan­chayat com­mit­tee elec­tions — could also be seen.

A la­bel iden­ti­fy­ing the room as a polling hall in English and Ben­gali fur­ther con­firmed the video was def­i­nitely linked to a pan­chay­ati vote in West Ben­gal.

The man caught on tape was not alone. A scru­tiny of the au­dio sug­gested he was ac­com­pa­nied by some other peo­ple tak­ing stills and record­ing his bal­lot stamp­ing on their phone cam­eras. IN­DIA TO­DAY TV’s team now found a man who was present in the booth when it cap­tured rig­ging. The man, who re­quested anonymity, dis­closed what hap­pened in Ra­jarhat Tehsil.

Elec­tion of­fi­cials told our crew that can­di­dates in West Ben­gal are listed in Ben­gali al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der on pa­per bal­lots — in ac­cor­dance with the first let­ter of their names. We now ex­am­ined the can­di­date list al­pha­bet­i­cally. The ex­er­cise helped us iden­tify the pre­cise seat— Seat Num­ber 33 in Patharghata.

That’s where BJP nom­i­nee Achint Ku­mar Naskar, the TMC’s Gour Naskar, Bapi Biswas of the CPM and the Congress' Ratna Bhattacharya con­tested from.

And that’s how their names were placed in Ben­gali or­der. We later found their names matched those shown on pa­per bal­lot. The clip of booth cap­tur­ing in West Ben­gal pan­chay­ati elec­tions tested pos­i­tive in In­dia To­day’s Vi­ral Test.

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