Defying threats by Maoists, as many as 70 per cent of the electorate turned out to vote today, in 18 constituencies in the first phase of Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh amid violence and allegations of EVM rigging. The turnout was just a shade lower than the first phase in 2013 when 75.53 per cent of voters turned out to exercise their franchise.
Appreciating the enthusiasm of the voters, Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said attempts were made to instil a sense of fear among people. “Polling was peaceful. In comparison to earlier elections, this elections have been singular achievement of the people working in the fields. Attempts were made to create fear among people but enthusiasm in voters was appreciable.”
Minutes before polling began, an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated in Dantewada district by Naxals, who had called for a boycott of the polls. Security personnel also recovered IEDs near a polling station in Bijapur and in Sukma district.
Moreover, five personnel of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) were injured and five Naxals were killed in two separate encounters at Bijapur district’s Pamed area. The first encounter took place when a group of Maoists opened fire at a patrolling team of the CoBRA’s 204th battalion, injuring two jawans. The Maoists fled upon retaliation.
When the same patrolling team was cordoning off a forest patch near Majiguda village, Maoists again opened fire at them, injuring assistant commandant Amit Deswal, head constable Sunil and constable Chaitanya.