Northeast records heavy but peaceful first phase polling (Night Lead)

April 16th, 2009 - 8:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, April 16 (IANS) Voting in the first phase of elections to 24 parliamentary seats from six of the seven insurgency-hit northeast states ended Thursday, with heavy polling recorded in 10 seats amid incidents of stray violence.
“Voting has ended rather peacefully in six of the seven northeastern states with heavy polling recorded,” an election official said.

According to preliminary reports, an estimated 62 percent polling was recorded in the three parliamentary constituencies of Silchar, Karimganj, and Autonomous District of Assam.

“The final polling percentage could be a little higher as we are still compiling figures from remote areas,” Assam Chief Electoral Officer Hemanta Narzary said.

“There were a few minor incidents of faulty EVMs (electronic voting machines) and temporary suspension of voting, but otherwise polling passed off very peacefully. Re-polling has been ordered in one polling station in the Silchar constituency after miscreants vandalised EVMs during the vote,” he said.

Voting was also held in two constituencies each in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, and one seat each in Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram.

An estimated 7.45 million voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase of elections in the six of the seven northeastern states. The electoral fortunes of 72 candidates are now sealed.

The polling percentage for the Shillong parliamentary seat was 65 percent, while it was 58 percent in Tura in Meghalaya.

An estimated 70 percent polling was recorded in the Outer Manipur constituency, while 60 to 65 percent voting was recorded in the lone Lok Sabha seat in Mizoram and in two seats in Arunachal Pradesh.

There were incidents of violence in the run-up to the elections in Assam and Manipur with militants triggering explosions and attacking trains, besides ambushing security personnel, in which about 15 people were killed and more than 100 injured.

“We are happy that the vote passed off peacefully so far,” Assam police chief G.M. Srivastava said.

Security threat in Mizoram, Nagaland, and Meghalaya is comparatively less than that in Assam and Manipur.

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