Bihar panchayat polls see 60 percent turnout


Patna : The third round of Bihar’s 10-phase panchayat polls saw a 60.5 percent voter turnout Wednesday, with sporadic incidents of violence and alleged rigging attempts, officials said.

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“About 60.5 percent of the electorate had cast their votes by 5 p.m.,” an official said.

According to police, there were reports of firing between supporters of rival candidates in Vaishali, Shekhpura, Aurangabad, East Champaran and clashes between rival groups in over dozen places in the state.

Additional Director General of Police Rajwardhan Sharma said police opened fire at two places to disperse troublemakers during the polls.

“By and large the polls passed off peacefully,” Sharma said.

Police also confirmed reports of attempts to rig the polls and snatch the ballots at several places. Over 300 people have been arrested.

The polling began at 7 a.m., voters, particularly women in colourful dresses, were seen lining up at polling booths despite a boycott call by the Maoists.

Bihar police chief Neelmani said that security forces, including central paramilitary forces, have been deployed at polling stations to ensure free and fair polls.

Voting took place in 54 blocks of 37 districts to elect 27,022 members to village council posts. There were 87,092 candidates in the fray in the third phase.

Nearly 2.75 lakh people whom the police term as ‘troublemakers and habitual offenders’ have signed bonds promising not to disrupt the polling process, a police officer said.

The state election commission has made it clear that if any candidate is attacked or intimidated, his rival will be named in the police report.

The first round of Bihar’s 10-phase panchayat polls saw a police officer and a woman voter being killed in a Maoist attack in Jamui district.

Around half a dozen people were injured in clashes between rival groups in various parts of the state, officials said. In the second round of polling one person was killed.

The Maoists have issued a poll boycott call and threatened to disrupt the elections.

The 10-phased panchayat polls began April 20 and will end May 28.