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|October 3, 1999||
70 pc polling in Bengal despite shadow of violence
About 70 per cent of 47.5 million voters today cast their votes in flood ravaged West Bengal where polling was by and large peaceful.
''Peaceful polling is the tradition of west bengal,'' Home Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya told reporters at the state secretariat here.
Counting of votes will be taken up on October six.
The polling was boycotted in 32 booths throughout the state on local issues. Polling was negligible in the Darjeeling hill areas following a boycott call by the GNLF.
Chief Electoral Officer Jawahar Sircar told newsmen that polling has been postponed in 362 booths in Burdwan and Nadia districts because of floods. Polling would be held in these booths on October 5.
Sircar said the Election Commission might postpone polling in a few more booths for some other reasons. He, however, did not elaborate.
Sircar said in a daring incident last night the activists of the Naxalite group, Maoist Communist Centre, raided a polling booth at Belpahari on the Bengal-Bihar border and kidnapped five polling personnel. Though the polling personnel were rescued this morning, two rifles snatched by the Naxalites from police were yet to be recovered.
In another incident, the district magistrate of Nadia took the entire polling party of a booth at Debagram under Krishnagar constituency into custody on charges of malpractices. The entire polling party was later replaced.
The home minister said reports of clashes, scuffling and intimidation by workers of diffferent political parties had been received from various parts of the city and the state. Miscreants also hurled bombs at a few places in and around the city. Two people sustained splinter injuries. Most of these incidents were reported from Khanakul in Hooghly district, Keshpur and Garbeta in Midnapore and Nabadwip in Nadia district.
He said eight motor-cycle riders were arrested and their vehicles seized in Garbeta, east of Midnapore district, on charges of intimidating voters. Six people were arrested from Barasat for carrying bombs in a car. The car was also seized.
He said 11 people were arrested while carrying pipe guns in a vehicle from Eliot Road in the city. Incidents of bomb blasts were reported from Rabindra Sarani and upper Chitpore road in the city and in Jagaddal of North 24 Paraganas district.
Altogether 309 candidates are vying for the 42 lok sabha seats from the state. Polling for the by-elections in five assembly constituencies was also held simaultaneously.
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