Raipur: Around 70 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise in the second phase of the panchayat polls held in Chhattisgarh on Sunday, even as Naxals disrupted the election process by looting ballot boxes at 24 polling booths in the strife-torn Bastar region.
"69.59 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the second phase of the panchayat polls today held in 22 districts of Chhattisgarh," State Election Commissioner P C Dalei told reporters late this evening.
The highest turnout of 82 per cent was recorded?in Balrampur district, followed by Surajpur and Dhamtari (81 pc), Surguja and Korba (78 pc). Naxal-affected Sukma witnessed the lowest turnout of 22 per cent.
While the Naxal-affected Bastar division saw just 56.40 pc polling, 73.47 pc voting was recorded in the rest of the region, with Rajnandgaon and Durg at 75 pc each, Bilaspur at 72 pc and Bastar at 67 pc.
The insurgency-hit Sukma block in Sukma district and Dantewada block in Dantewada district witnessed polling from 6.45 AM to 2 PM, while it was 7 AM to 3 PM in the remaining areas.
"Barring the incidents of looting of polling material, including ballot boxes at 24 polling booths in Maoist-hit Sukma and Kondagaon, the elections were held in a peaceful manner," Dalei said.
Polling material was looted from 17 polling booths of Sukma district, while the rebels threatened polling staff to leave the polling stations in two booths of the same region, Dalei said.
Similar incidents took place at five polling booths in Kondagaon district, he said.
"However, the polling staff and security personnel were not harmed in these incidents," he said.
Besides, polling also did not take place in two polling stations of Kanker district and three of Raigarh district due some irregularities in ballot papers whereas one polling booth of Bastar district due to issuance of wrong election symbol to a candidate, he said.
In Raigarh district, polling could not take place at two
booths due to delay in supply of ballot papers, he said.
"Re-polling in all these polling booths totalling to 32 will be held in the next phase," he added.
The second phase of the four-phased panchayat polls in Chhattisgarh will elect 107 Zila panchayat members, 755 Janpad panchayat members, 2,561 sarpanchs and 22,397 panchs.
Counting for the posts of sarpanch and panch was taken up at booth level immediately and results will be announced till late night.
However votes polled for janpad panchayat members and zila panchayat members will be counted later at district headquarters.
Polling for the next phase will be held on February 4.