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55 per cent polling in Chhattisgarh

December 01, 2003 14:32 IST
Last Updated: December 01, 2003 20:27 IST

Over 55 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the maiden election to the 90- member Chhattisgarh Assembly.

The voting, however, was marred by Naxalite violence that left one injured and looting of Electronic Voting Machines by outlawed People's War who had given a call for poll boycott.

Repolling has been proposed in 13 booths in four Naxal-infested constituencies after PW looted EVMs at 12 booths and authorities failed to replace a faulty one in one, election office sources told PTI.

One person was injured in Sarguja district when ultras opened fire on voters, they said.

Voter turnout was more in urban areas compared to rural parts of the state, the sources said. In Raipur city and adjacent areas over 50 per cent polling was recorded by 1400 hours.

The helicopter carrying polling parties to eight places in Dantewada district could not take off in the morning due to bad weather. However, after the weather improved later, the chopper ferried them to the booths, where polling was held smoothly, the sources said.

Ultras looted EVMs in Puladi, Halur, Peda-Korma, Lingagiri, Bhusapur, Dunga, Pidiakota and Takiload booths of Bijapur constituency prompting the Bijapur presiding officer to suggest fresh polls in the areas, they said.

The situation, they said, is 'very tense' in Bijapur constituency where Naxalites triggered landmine blasts and indulged in violence.

EVMs were looted by Naxalites also in Ursangal and Mula Kishori booths of Konta constituency in Dantewada district besides three booths in Kanker district, they said.

In Kanker, EVMs were taken away from two booths in Narayanpur constituency and one in Irpanar.

A faulty EVM could not be changed in Kaudikosa booth of Chouki constituency of Rajnandgaon district.

The EC is also planning fresh polls in all the 13 booths, the sources said.

Security personnel and Naxalites were engaged in a gunbattle in Kanker district's Kamteda, Jagargunda and Pinkanod areas, while ultras triggered landmines at several places in Dantewada district.

However, there were no reports of any injury.

Details of polling parties, taken hostage by ultras in Cherkanthi and Reddy was not yet known as the officials said they were yet to establish any contact with the security party.

At Mirtur the vehicle of the zonal magistrate was burnt by the ultras. No one was injured in the incident.

Naxalites also burnt EVMs in both the booths of Irpanar before the polling started and burnt a truck used for polling purpose and exchanged fire with security personnel at many places to threaten poll party, Kanker district officials said.

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