Seventh round of Bihar panchayat polls continues peacefully (Lead)

May 9th, 2011 - 10:37 am ICT by IANS  

Patna, May 9 (IANS) Large number of people turned out to cast their ballot in the seventh phase of the Bihar panchayat polls that began Monday morning amidst tight security, officials said.

Polling started at 7 a.m. and voters were queuing up at polling booths despite a boycott call by the Maoists.

Bihar Police chief Neelmani said that polling was continuing peacefully with no reports of violence.

Security forces, including central paramilitary troops, have been deployed at polling booths to ensure free and fair voting.

“Strict action would be taken against those found trying to either disturb the polling process or attempting to undermine the sanctity of the democratic exercise,” Neelmani said.

Voting is taking place in 62 blocks, 12 of them Maoist-affected, in 37 districts to elect 28,055 people to village council posts. There are 97,505 candidates in the fray.

Till date, nearly 3.89 lakh “troublemakers and habitual offenders” have signed bonds promising not to disrupt the panchayat polls in Bihar, police said.

Last month, the state election commission made it clear that if a candidate was attacked or intimidated during the panchayat polls, his rival will be named in the police report.

The first round of Bihar’s 10-phase panchayat polls saw a police officer and a woman voter being killed in a Maoist attack in Jamui district. In the second round also a man was killed. But the later phases passed off peacefully except for a few sporadic incidents of violence.

Maoists have issued a poll boycott call and threatened to disrupt the elections.

Elections in Bihar were once known for violence and booth capturing. In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, 74 people were killed in poll-related violence. About 20 people were killed in the 2004 general elections and 158 during the 2001 panchayat elections.

The 10-phased panchayat polls will end May 28.

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