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Naxalite violence mars Chhattisgarh polls

BS Reporter  |  Kolkata/ Raipur 

About 50 to 55 per cent polling has been recorded in Chhattisgarh where widespread violence inflicted by the outlawed Naxalites marred the election today, killing seven persons employed in election duties. In the 11 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, 15.4 million voters were eligible to exercise their franchise. Sources in the election office said about 50 to 55 per cent people turned up to cast their votes in 20,967 polling booths. “The number could change once the final figure comes late in the evening,” sources said.

Polling in two Naxalite infested constituencies of Kanker and Bastar ended at 3 pm while in remaining nine seats, it came to an end at 4 pm. Till 3 pm, about 45 per cent polling was recorded in the state. In all, 178 candidates are in the fray.

State’s chief electoral officer Sunil Kujur informed that rebels looted Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) at 12 places in Bastar and Rajnandgaon.

The election office would recommend the Election Commission for re-polling in these booths. Kujur said people boycotted polls in four polling booths. Of them, one booth is in Raipur and three in Raigarh district.

In Jaipur polling booth of Koriya district, a group of people tried to capture the booth. The polling was suspended in the centre, Kujur added. The poll was marred by Naxalite violence in the interior areas. In Rajnandgaon district’s Maanpur area, guerrillas blew up a jeep carrying seven polling officials. The Zonal Election Officer, A K Acharya and four others were killed in the blast that left two others critically injured.

In Bijapur district, two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans of the 41st battalion were shot dead and four others injured when rebels stormed the polling booths. The Naxalites captured five polling booths in Jangampal, Bhattal, Kalepal, Nelavaya and Badedodan villages of Dantewada.

First Published: Fri, April 17 2009. 00:01 IST