Over 30 percent voting in Bihar till afternoon as Maoists kill two (Second Lead)

April 16th, 2009 - 3:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Patna, April 16 (IANS) A voter turnout of over 30 percent was recorded in Bihar in the first six hours of polling for the first phase of general elections under way in 13 of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha constituencies Thursday, even as Maoists attacked polling stations in Gaya district and killed two securitymen.
Some incidents of violence, clashes, firing between rival groups and attempts to capture polling stations were reported from Gaya, Maharajganj, Jehanabad, Karakat, Aurangabad and Jamui districts, although police had shoot at sight orders.

In Gaya, policeman Vishambhar Choudhary and Home Guard Ramdeo Khair were killed in a Maoist attack on a polling station. Two women voters in the queue were injured and had to be taken to hospital.

A landmine blast by suspected Maoist guerrillas injured district president of Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in Jamui district.

Some journalists were attacked by booth grabbers in Jehanabad. In Maharajganj firing between two rival gangs was reported.

After a slow start in the initial hours, the voter turnout picked up in the afternoon despite scorching sun and fears of Maoist violence.

“Polling was slow in the early hours but it rose later in the day,” an official of the state election office said.

According to the official, an estimated 28 to 32 percent voters polled till 2 p.m., as long queues were seen at different polling centres in all the 13 constituencies.

Polling began at 7 a.m., and by 10 a.m. most constituencies had recorded five to eight percent turnout. Only one or two of them saw nine to 10 percent of the voters exercising their franchise. The average rose to 15 to 18 percent by noon.

Reports reaching here said residents in dozens of villages boycotted the elections in at least over six constituencies protesting lack of development.

Most Maoist affected areas of the state went to the polls Thursday. The rebels of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) have called for boycott of the election.

The constituencies going to polls in the first phase are Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Nawada, Ara, Buxar, Karakat, Maharajganj, Sasaram, Jamui, Saran, Siwan and Gopalganj.

“The state administration has taken adequate measures to check violence during the polls,” Bihar police chief D.N. Gautam said.

He said that 110,000 police personnel, including central paramilitary forces, have been deployed at 19,738 polling booths. Two Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters are also being used for aerial surveillance.

About 17.6 million people were eligible to exercise their franchise Thursday to decide the electoral fortunes of 223 candidates, including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad in Saran, central ministers Meira Kumar in Sasaram and Kanti Singh in Karakat.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Rajiv Pratap Rudy, JD-U’s Prabhunath Singh and Congress’s Nikhil Kumar are also in the poll fray.

In Siwan and Nawada constituencies, jailed RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin’s wife Heena Sahab and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MP Surajbhan Singh’s wife Veena Devi, respectively, are trying their luck.

Both Shahabuddin and Singh, known criminal-turned-politicians, have been convicted for murder and have been barred from the polls.

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