Panchayat polls begin in Bihar

Voting for the first phase of Bihar panchayat polls began Wednesday morning amid tight security. People were seen queuing up at polling booths despite a boycott call by Maoists.

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011, 12:35 PM IST

Patna: Voting for the first phase of Bihar panchayat polls began Wednesday morning amid tight security. People were seen queuing up at polling booths despite a boycott call by Maoists.

"Panchayat polls began on a peaceful note. There have been no reports of violence," Bihar Police chief Neelmani said.

He said that security forces, including the central paramilitary, have been deployed at polling stations to ensure free and fair polls.

"Strict action would be taken against those found trying to either disrupt the polling process or attempting to undermine the sanctity of the democratic exercise," he said.

The state administration has sealed the India-Nepal border and deployed security forces at all vulnerable points.

Voting, which began at 7 am, is taking place in 57 blocks of 37 districts in the first phase to elect a total of 28,639 village council posts. There are 1.43 lakh candidates in the fray.

Nearly 2.75 lakh "troublemakers and habitual offenders" have signed bonds promising not to disrupt the polling process, a police officer said.

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

The 10-phased polls for 262,000 panchayat posts would end May 28.

IANS