Polling begins amid Maoist violence in Jharkhand (Lead)

April 23rd, 2009 - 10:01 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Ranchi, April 23 (IANS) Voting for eight of the 14 Lok Sabha seats of Jharkhand began amid Maoist violence Thursday morning. The rebels attacked a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp and blew up a railway station a few hours before polling stations opened.
Voting started at 7 a.m. to all the eight Lok Sabha seats. The fate of 164 candidates will be decided by 10,975,854 electorates.

In West Singhbhum district, Maoist rebels attacked a CRPF camp early Thursday. A gun battle between the militants and security personnel was still on, officials said.

The guerrillas blew up the Chiyanki railway station in Palamau district late Wednesday. They also bombed the outer cabin of the railway station. The cabin man and porter have been missing since the attack.

Police said the Maoist rebels also triggered an explosion on the road between Giridih and Dumri and cut trees to block it early Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Maoists had hijacked a passenger train in Lathear district. They released it more than four hours later.

The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has called for a boycott of the polls. Due to the Maoist threat, the polling will end at 3 p.m., an hour ahead of usual.

Of the eight Lok Sabha seats where polling was underway, four are held by the Congress and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

The second phase of polling will decide the fate of three former chief ministers - Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren - as well as central Food Processing Minister Subodh Kanat Sahay.

Munda, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate is fighting from Jamshedpur. Koda is fighting as an independent in Singhbhum and is locked in triangular fight with the Congress and JMM. Soren is fighting from the Lok Sabha poll from Dumka along with the Jamatara assembly by-election.

Sahay is in a direct fight with BJP candiaite Ram Tahal Chaudhary in Ranchi.

Dhanbad has both highest number of contestants and voters. There are 32 candidates and 1,796,437 electorates.

In the first phase of polling April 16, nine people, including six Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, were killed in Maoist violence Jharkhand.

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