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Turning up at booths, Bihar voters cock a snook at Naxals

Shoumojit Banerjee
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Constable, home guard killed as bomb goes off at Londa

Disaster averted: A bomb disposal squad member displays a cylinder bomb after defusing it near Koyaribigh in the Imamganj (SC) Assembly constituency in Gaya district during the last phase of the Bihar Assembly elections on Saturday. — Photo: Ranjeet Kumar
Disaster averted: A bomb disposal squad member displays a cylinder bomb after defusing it near Koyaribigh in the Imamganj (SC) Assembly constituency in Gaya district during the last phase of the Bihar Assembly elections on Saturday. — Photo: Ranjeet Kumar

An impressive 51 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise in the sixth and final phase of the Bihar Assembly elections in 26 constituencies on Saturday.

Despite formidable security arrangements, the phase was marred by stray incidents of Naxal violence in which two police personnel were killed.

Earlier in the day, a Bihar Military Police (BMP) constable of a bomb squad and a home guard were killed while seven others, including three journalists, injured when a can bomb planted under a culvert went off at Londa in Gaya district.

Police said Anil Singh of the BMP was defusing the bomb planted by Naxals near Londa village in the Imamganj constituency when it exploded, killing him instantly.

There were further disturbances in other districts throughout the day as Naxals opened fire on some BMP personnel 500 metres from a booth at Tardih in Rohtas district. Both sides exchanged fire, but no injuries were reported.

Director-General of Police Neelmani said a Railway Protection Force constable suffered splinter injuries when Naxals detonated a pressure mine near the Barachatti police station area in Gaya district.

Despite boycott polls, the high turnout in the 18 Naxal-afflicted constituencies was encouraging. While Buxar recorded 53 per cent, Kaimur and Rohtas districts saw a healthy 51 per cent turnout.

Aurangabad, yet another Naxal hotbed, saw a dramatic surge in the number of voters, taking the average percentage to 54.06 at the close of poll.

The turnout in Gaya district — which recorded a relatively low poll percentage of 45.4 — was substantially higher than its 38.9 per cent in the October 2005 Assembly polls.

All in all, impressive polling figures were recorded in the Naxal-hit constituencies yet again with Bhabua and Chainpur (in Kaimur district) clocking 51 per cent, Karakat 53 per cent, and Aurangabad and Rafiganj 52 and 51 per cent.

Boycott in 9 booths

According to reports, voters boycotted polling in nine booths in Aurangabad district protesting against lack of development in their areas.

Polling was held from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the 18 critical constituencies, while in the remaining eight, the process continued till 5 p.m.

Mr. Neelmani said the police seized some “dud bombs” at three booths in Aurangabad and Gaya districts earlier in the day.

About 50 people had been detained as a preventive measure in Gaya, Aurangabad and Rohtas districts.

In another incident, seven poll personnel were injured when a tractor-trolley collided with a truck in the Aurangabad constituency.

Police authorities said around 35,000 security personnel had been deployed as part of the unprecedented security arrangements in this phase, with four helicopters maintaining vigil over the area.

Counting of votes will take place on November 24.


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