Over 52 percent voting in Orissa amid Maoist attack (Second Lead)

April 16th, 2009 - 9:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, April 16 (IANS) Over 52 percent voting was recorded in Orissa Thursday in the first phase of its simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections marked by stray incidents of Maoist attacks, officials said.
“As per information received from returning officers over telephone, the polling is approximately 52.6 percent,” Alka Panda, state’s chief electoral officer, told reporters.

The highest voting was recorded in the southern district of Nabrangpur with 60 percent while the Maoist-affected district of Malkangiri saw the lowest with only 41 percent.

Voting was by and large peaceful across the state except for some stray incidents of violence. Maoists attacked three polling stations in Malkangiri district and one in Sundergarh district, police said.

The rebels struck again after polling ended, triggering a land mine blast in Koraput district in the evening. The blast near Narayan Patna village targeted a polling party that was returning with voting machines after polling.

“The polling party had a narrow escaped,” district Superintendent of Police Deepak Kumar told IANS.

The Maoists, who had called for a complete boycott of the polls, felled trees and dug up roads in many places to prevent people from going to vote. They also threatened to chop off the hands of people who go to vote.

Hundreds of villagers in Rayagada and Malkangiri districts stayed away from the elections.

The first phase of elections was held Thursday for 10 Lok Sabha seats, with 72 candidates in the fray, and 70 assembly constituencies, with 599 candidates contesting.

Prominent politicians contesting included Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik from Hinjili assembly constituency and union minister and Congress leader Chandrasekhar Sahu from Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency.

Former chief minister Giridhar Gomang was contesting from Koraput and former union minister Jual Oram from Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat.

The second phase of polling will be held April 23.

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