52 pc voting in Bastar, policeman injured in blast

A low 52 percent turnout was recorded in the Naxal-hit Bastar Lok Sabha constituency of Chhattisgarh on Thursday, where a police personnel was injured in an attack by the rebels, and explosives were recovered from a few places.

PTI| Last Updated: Apr 11, 2014, 00:33 AM IST

Raipur: A low 52 percent turnout was recorded in the Naxal-hit Bastar Lok Sabha constituency of Chhattisgarh on Thursday, where a police personnel was injured in an attack by the rebels, and explosives were recovered from a few places.

Naxals, who had called for boycott of the election, ambushed a police team which was escorting polling officials on their return after conclusion of polling in Gadiras police station limits of Sukma district. A police constable was injured in the attack, Additional Superintendent of Police Neeraj Chandrakar said.

"The incident took place in the forests between Dhruwaras and Munga when rebels triggered a pressure bomb blast and followed it with indiscriminate firing," he told a news agency.

"Constable Raju Alami was injured in the blast," he said, adding that he was being shifted out from the area.

Firing was reported near several polling booths; explosives were recovered from some places. Bastar was the only constituency in the tribal-dominated state that went to polls today.

"Around 52 percent of electorate exercised the franchise," state`s Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Kujur said.

The highest turnout was recorded in Bastar district (67 pc) followed by Kondagaon (55 pc), Narayanpur (45 pc), Dantewada (42 pc), Sukma (25 pc) and Bijapur (25 pc), he said.
Polling ended at 3 pm in seven Assembly segments -- Bastar, Chitrakot, Narayanpur, Bijapur, Konta, Kondagaon and Dantewada -- while it went on till 4 pm in Jagdalpur Assembly segment.

Voting did not take place at Polampalli polling station of Konta region of Sukma district due to fault in EVM machine. A total of 26 EVMs had to be replaced, one of them, when the voting had started.
Electoral process in 53 polling stations was under surveillance through webcasting cameras.

According to a senior police official, firing by Naxals was reported near Korra polling booth under Gadiras police station and at Amirgarh under Tongpal police station of Sukma district; Samoli booth under Kirandul station and Thanikarka booth under Kuwakonda station in Dantewada district; Nednar booth of Narayanpur district, Padeli booth under Mardapal police station and Raigabodi under Bayanar station of Kondagaon district.

"However, no causalities were reported," he said, as rebels fled after security personnel retaliated.
Earlier in the day, 15 Improvised Explosive Devices, each weighing 10 kg, were unearthed by a joint patrol of Border Security Force and police from Nelnar area.

The polling booth in the area was subsequently shifted to nearby Akabeda, he said.

Three pressure bombs were recovered from Bhansi police station limits in Dantewada district by the police.

Eight candidates including two women are in the fray in the Bastar Lok Sabha constituency.

The BJP has fielded sitting MP Dinesh Kashyap while Congress has fielded Deepak Karma, whose father Mahendra Karma, founder of Salva Judum movement, was killed by Naxals in the Jiram valley attack on May 25, 2013.
The contest became three-cornered with the candidature of Soni Sori, a tribal teacher from Dantewada region, on AAP ticket. She had been arrested earlier for alleged Naxal links.

The other candidates in fray are Manbodh Baghel (BSP), Shankar Ram Thakur (SP), Vimla Sori (CPI), Devchand Dhruv (CPI) (ML) and Arjun Singh Thakur (Ambedkarite Party of India).

A Naxal was killed and another injured in an encounter with security forces in Sukma district last night near the Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh border when state police and Greyhounds of Andhra Pradesh were on a combing operation, police said.