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58 pc turnout in last phase of Jharkhand polls

Last updated on: December 18, 2009 18:29 IST

The long five-phase assembly polls in Jharkand held in the shadow of Maoist violence concluded on Friday with an overall 58 per cent voter turnout after the end of the final phase marred by landmine explosions in which two policemen were killed.

The electorate in the mineral-rich state rejected the call for poll boycott given by Maoists and turned in larger numbers than in the previous 2005 assembly polls, which recorded a 55 per cent voter turnout.

An estimated 58 to 60 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot in the fifth phase for the remaining 16 seats in the 81-member assembly.

Counting of votes in the elections held under unprecedented security cover will be taken up on December 23.

The first phase of elections commenced on November 25.

The wife of former state chief minister Madhu Koda, who is at the centre of a multi-score money laundering scam, was among the 290 candidates in the fray on Friday.

"Officials of the Election Commission in New Delhi and the state poll body in Ranchi monitored the polling through webcams in eight booths -- one each in Chaibasa, Sareikela, Garhwa, Chatra, Latehar, Barkatha and two in Palamau," an EC spokesman said.

Maoists exploded a landmine at Mahur in Hussainabad constituency in Palamau district, killing a police havildar and injuring two others, SP Jatin Narwal said.

A brief encounter took place between policemen and Maoists at Dakra shortly after the explosion, he said.

Maoists also triggered a landmine blast at Titlighat in Saranda forest under Jagannathpur assembly constituency in West Singhbhum district in which a CRPF jawan was killed, IGP V H Deshmukh told PTI.

Maoists also blew up a 15-foot road bridge at Saharia in Hussainabad assembly constituency. In another incident, security forces recovered 40 kg IED near booth number 102 under Chatra assembly constituency, police said.

The explosive was recovered during a search operation, the sources added.

In the final phase, 290 candidates contested from 16 constituencies -- Chatra, Latehar, Simaria, Panki, Bishrampur, Hussainabad, Chhatarpur, Garhwa, Bhawnathpur, Manika, Chaibasa, Barkatha, Jagannathpur, Sareikella, Kharsawan and Daltonganj.

Geeta Koda expressed confidence that her husband's good work as MLA would ensure her victory from the Jagannathpur assembly constituency from where she is contesting.

Madhu Koda, at present, is the Lok Sabha member from Singhbhum parliamentary seat.

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