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Millennium Post

Maoists strike, but Chhattisgarh votes big

According to agency reports from Raipur, 70 per cent voting was recorded across 18 constituencies of Bastar and Rajnandgaon till 3 pm in the first phase of assembly election in the state, where violence by Maoists, who have given poll boycott call, left a CRPF jawan dead.

Maoists ambushed a team of election personnel when they were returning after conclusion of polling in Katekalyan area of Dantewada district in south Chhattisgarh, killing CRPF jawan B Joseph of 186 battalion. Also, over ten bombs, including a 10-kg pipe bomb, were recovered and a policeman was injured in a bomb attack by Maoists since morning.

The fate of chief minister Raman Singh, who is hoping for a hat-trick this time, and three of his ministers - Kedar Kashyap, Lata Usendi and Vikram Usendi - would be decided in Monday’s polling. Singh is contesting from Rajnandgaon.

In some places, relatives of victims of Maoist attack on the Congress convoy in Jiram valley are in the fray.

‘So far, around 70 per cent polling has been registered,’ joint electoral officer DD Singh told agencies in Raipur. Amid tight security, polling in 13 Maoist-affected constituencies of Bastar and Rajnandgaon concluded at 3 pm, while in other five constituencies of Rajnandgaon, it concluded at 5 pm. Voting, however, failed to start in two ‘hyper-sensitive’ polling booths - Durgapur and Sitram - in Kanker district as polling officials could not reach owing to Maoist resistance.

Ultras also looted EVM machines when a polling party was heading to their destination in Durgapur. Two polling booths in Panidobir area of Kanker were relocated to Gudabeda in Antagarh area due to Maoist threat.

A pipe bomb was recovered from Murkinar area of Bijapur district. Eight bombs were recovered in Mangnar area and two in Kuwakonda area of Dantewada district during de-mining. Tiffin bombs were recovered in Orcha area of Narayanpur district and a bomb in Kanker district, police sources said.

A police personnel was injured when a ‘pressure bomb’ set by Naxals exploded in Kanker. Encounters between security forces and Maoists were also reported near a few polling booths in Dantewada and Bijapur districts of south Chhattisgarh.
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