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70 pc polling in Chhattisgarh; jawan dead in Naxal violence

Last updated on: November 11, 2013 17:39 IST

70 per cent voting was recorded across 18 constituencies of Bastar and Rajnandgaon till 3 pm in the first phase of assembly election in Chhattisgarh, where violence by Naxals who have called for a poll boycott left a Central Reserve Police Force jawan dead.

Naxals ambushed a team of election personnel when they were returning after conclusion of polling in Katekalyan area of Dantewada district in south Chhattisgarh, killing Central Reserve Police Force jawan B Joseph of 186 battalion.

Also, over ten bombs, including a 10 kg pipe bomb, were recovered and a policeman was injured in a bomb attack by Naxals since morning.

"So far, around 70 percent polling has been registered," Joint Electoral Officer D D Singh told PTI.

Amid tight security, polling in thirteen Naxal-affected constituencies of Bastar and Rajnandgaon concluded at 3 pm, while in other five constituencies of Rajnandgaon, it will conclude by 5 pm.

Voting, however, failed to start in two `hyper-sensitive' polling booths -- Durgapur and Sitram -- in Kanker district as polling officials could not reach there owing to Naxal resistance.

Ultras also looted electronic voting machines when a polling party was heading to their destination in Durgapur.

Two polling booths in Panidobir area of Kanker were relocated to Gudabeda in Antagarh area due to Naxal threat.

Rajendra Mahapatra, a presiding officer at Balinga polling booth of Kondagaon district, died of heart attack this morning, the official said. Another official was deputed there.

A total of 143 candidates from 12 constituencies are in the fray in Bastar division and six constituencies of Rajnandgaon district, with an electorate of 29,33,200 in the first of the two-phase polls to the 90-member assembly in the state, where Chief Minister Raman Singh is aiming for a hattrick.

The maximum number of candidates has been fielded in two constituencies -- Rajnandgaon and Jagdalpur (14 each) and the least number of candidates are in Konta (4).

The fate of Raman Singh and his three ministers -- Kedar Kashyap, Lata Usendi and Vikram Usendi -- will be sealed today.

A total of 4,142 polling booths have been set up, of which 1,517 are sensitive booths, while 1,311 are hyper-sensitive stations.

Out of the 18 seats, BJP had won 15 while Congress had won three in the last state election.

The remaining 72 constituencies, including Bilaspur and state-capital Raipur, are scheduled for polls on November 19.

A large number of security personnel have been deployed across the state to ensure peaceful polling.

A total of 562 companies have been recently sent by the Centre to step up security in addition to the existing 40 battalions of paramilitary forces engaged in anti-Naxal operations and other security related duty in the state.

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