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Chhattisgarh: Violence marks first phase of polling
Krishnakumar in Jagdalpur | November 14, 2008 11:39 IST
Last Updated: November 14, 2008 17:46 IST
The presence of more than 60,000 security personnel in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region has not prevented the Maoists from attempting to disrupt polling in the region.
But despite the boycott call of the rebels, voting was brisk under the conditions.
Jagdalpur has so far registered 60 per cent polling and Dantewada district has seen 30 per cent voting till now.
Polling began at 7 am in the Bastar region and will end early, at 3 pm, due to the Maoist threat.
But the rebels were well-prepared and violence started almost simultaneously with the voting. Indiscriminate firing from the Maoists disrupted polling in two booths, while an improvised explosive device blast left three policemen injured in another.
The Naxalites [Images] triggered the blast in Borkha village under Bhejji police station limits in Dantewada. A helicopter has been requisitioned to evacuate the three injured, police sources said.
In Bhusaras, a four-kg landmine was recovered near a booth and seven people have been arrested in that connection, they said.
In Nichwar and Kamaram of the same district, the rebels engaged paramilitary forces in gunfire paramilitary forces.
The rebels also opened indiscriminate firing in Kudur and Hangwa of the district, disrupting polling, officials said.
Sources also said the rebels and the security forces are engaged in gun battle in various other parts of the region.
Security forces on Friday recovered a huge landmine at Nednar in Narayanpur district, where an improvised helipad was set up for the convenience of polling parties working in interior Bastar.
Sources said if any helicopter had landed at the spot, the damage would have been unimaginable.
"A police party had gone to sanitise the area, where a helicopter with polling officials was expected to land. They spotted some wires and immediately alerted us. We removed the landmine without any incident," Inspector General of Bastar, A N Upadhyaya, told rediff.com.
On how the Maoists had managed to plant the landmine, another top official said, "It is their area. It is we who had gone so far into their stronghold and all the pressure is on us."
Since early morning, armed rebels and security forces have been locked in a gun battle in over 23 places in Bastar. At least four security personnel were injured when Maoists opened fire in Morpalli.
Due to the Maoist threat, polling parties failed to reach the Maduki, Godapalli, Michwar and Poddem booths, Election Commission sources said.
Polling in as many as 21 places has been affected partially or totally and the Election Commission had been informed about that, the local officials said.
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