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|September 25, 1999||
51 per cent vote; 6 killed in Bihar
At least six persons were killed and a minister was detained in Bihar as an estimated 51 per cent of the 80 million voters in nine states exercised their franchise in the fourth and penultimate round of the Lok Sabha election today.
Chief Election Commissioner Manohar Singh Gill described the polling as "very satisfactory".
He put the turnout at 55 per cent in Bihar, 50 in Uttar Pradesh, 45 in Madhya Pradesh, 52 in Himachal Pradesh, 53 in Manipur, 52 in Meghalaya, 45 in Mizoram, 38 in Nagaland and 55 per cent in Orissa.
Violence came to the fore once again in Bihar. Four persons -- two each in Nalanda and Patna -- died in poll violence while a Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) supporter was killed in Siwan in a clash with a rival party activist.
Minister of State for Co-operatives Shyam Bihari Prasad was detained for allegedly trying to rig the polls in Motihari constituency.
Home Secretary U N Panjiyar said two villagers were shot dead when rival groups of anti-socials clashed near a booth in Nalanda constituency, from where Defence Minister George Fernandes is contesting the poll.
Two others were killed at Pipra under the Patna parliamentary seat when rival groups clashed. Another person was reported killed in an explosion in Barh constituency, from where Railway Minister Nitish Kumar is seeking re-election.
The state had witnessed 38 deaths in the first phase of polling on September 18. Security measures were further tightened this time, with the deployment of additional central forces and even landmine detection equipment in sensitive areas.
In the north-eastern state of Nagaland, a Border Security Force jawan was injured as bomb blasts, firing, snatching of poll material and intimidation of voters were reported from various parts. Miscreants exploded crude bombs at eight places and resorted to firing at three places in the capital Kohima. But no casualties were reported.
In Uttar Pradesh, additional companies of the Rapid Action Force and Provincial Armed Constabulary were deployed in Sujuru village of Muzaffarnagar district following a clash between police and Muslims. Police fired in the air to disperse a stone-throwing mob in the sensitive constituency following an altercation with some miscreants. An official vehicle of a sector magistrate was torched by the retreating mob. Six people, including a city magistrate, were injured in the violence.
The 24 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh where polling was held today recorded more than 40 per cent turnout. Voting was suspended in nine polling booths in Muzaffarnagar. The lowest turnout was reported from the two hill constituencies of Tehri and Garhwal.
In Madhya Pradesh, though Naxalites looted polling material from a booth in Konta in the Dantewada district last night, the material was replaced and polling began as scheduled today. Polling was adjourned for some time at a booth in Bijapur following an incident of the ballot box being snatched.
An estimated 30 per cent of the four million voters cast their ballots till noon in all four constituencies of Himachal Pradesh -- Mandi, Kangra, Hamirpur and Simla (scheduled caste). Long queues were seen outside the booths on a pleasant and sunny day.
A report from Bhubaneswar said polling was moderate to brisk for 10 of the 21 seats in Orissa. This was the first phase of polling in the state.
Today's polling has sealed the fate of 696 candidates in Himachal Pradesh (4 seats), Meghalaya (2), Mizoram (1), Nagaland (1), Bihar (19), Madhya Pradesh (12), Manipur (1), Orissa (10) and Uttar Pradesh (24). Prominent among the contestants were Narain Dutt Tiwari (Nainital), Union Minister Sompal Shastri and Ajit Singh (Baghpat), Maneka Gandhi (Pilibhit), Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (Rampur), Mulayam Singh Yadav (Sambhal), Santosh Gangwar (Bareilly), Ram Vilas Paswan (Hajipur), George Fernandes (Nalanda), Nitish Kumar (Barh), Shanta Kumar (Kangra), Motilal Vora (Rajnandangaon), S C Shukla (Mahasamund), Kamal Nath (Chhindwara) and Hema Gamang (Koraput).
In Mizoram, tribal Reang voters boycotted the poll and observed a 'black day' to protest against the exclusion of a large number of Reangs from the electoral lists. The state has one seat and an electorate of 450,000.
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