Home India Politics Bastar records 40 percent polling amid Maoist blasts, firing

Bastar records 40 percent polling amid Maoist blasts, firing


Raipur : A by-poll ended Sunday for Chhattisgarh’s Bastar Lok Sabha seat amid sporadic firing and landmine blasts by the Maoists as nearly 40 percent of 11.94 lakh tribal voters exercised their franchise, election officials said.

The final polling percentage can be known only after data is collected from vast forested areas. Maoists managed to scare away some voters by triggering blasts in Dantewada district. In few areas, villagers joined the rebels’ decision to boycott polling.

Maoist rebels opened fire at patrol teams at about a dozen places and triggered low-intensity landmine blasts at five places in the district.

Officials at the police headquarters here said that a special police officer (SPO) was killed in a gun battle with Maoists at Katekalyan area in Dantewada district while a polling official received bullet wounds and was taken to hospital.

The polling that began at 8 a.m. ended at 4 p.m. The counting of votes will be on May 13.

A legislator of the Congress party, Amarjeet Bhagat, who represents Sitapur assembly seat of state’s northern Surguja region, was taken into custody in Bastar district on charges of violating the election code of conduct.

Some 25,000 security personnel, including 15,000 paramilitary forces, were deployed in the constituency to guard 1,716 polling booths.

Five choppers were deployed for aerial supervision in Maoist strongholds where landmines have been laid on or close to roads. Maoists blocked the key Narayanpur-Orchha road with rocks and boulders.

Voting was held up for about 90 minutes at polling booth No.155 in Bijapur district as the electronic voting machine developed a snag.

Bastar is one of the worst hit by Maoist activities. The rebels have a strong presence in about 80 percent of the forested region.

There are eight candidates in the fray. The main contest, however, is between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. The state’s ruling BJP has won the seat four times, on two occasions before Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh.

The by-election followed the death of BJP’s tribal leader and MP Baliram Kashyap in March.

The BJP has fielded his son Dinesh Kashyap. The Congress nominee is Kawasi Lakhma, legislator from Konta seat, one of the eight assembly segments in the Bastar parliamentary constituency.