Voting begins in northeast amid heavy security

April 16th, 2009 - 9:09 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Guwahati, April 16 (IANS) Voting for the first phase of parliamentary elections began Thursday morning amid heavy security in India’s restive northeastern region, officials said.
An election official said people in large numbers queued up in front of polling stations well before voting began at 7 a.m. in 10 of the region’s 24 parliamentary constituencies.

Voting is being held in three parliamentary seats of Silchar, Karimganj and Autonomous District in Assam, two seats each in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, and one seat each in Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.

An estimated 7.45 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase of elections in six of the seven northeastern states. The electoral fortunes of 72 candidates will be decided in Thursday’s vote.

“Voting has begun in right earnest with people coming in large numbers to exercise their franchise,” an election official said.

The battle lines are drawn with the Congress party in almost all the six northeastern states taking on either regional parties or the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Authorities have deployed nearly 30,000 police and paramilitary troopers for the polls.

“Adequate security arrangements have been made to ensure that polling passes off peacefully,” the official said.

Polling ends at 4 p.m.

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