Garwah, Mar 29: About 15 per cent of an estimateed 13.66 lakh electorate cast votes till 1000 hrs, as polling in the naxal-dominated Palamu bypolls began at 0700 hrs here amid tight security today.
Altogether 15 candidates were in the fray, which was necessitated after Mr Manoj Bhuiyan(RJD) quit Lok Sabha membership, following cash-for-query scam.
Despite the presence of large number of aspirants, the main fight was apparently confined within the NDA, UPA and JVM(Democratic). The prominent three candidates are Jawahar Paswan(BJP), Prabhat Bhuiyan(JVM-D) and Ghuran Ram(RJD).
According to official sources, no untoward incident was reported so far.
Security was kept on high alert with anti-landmine squads and sniffer dogs engaged in sanitising vulnerable roads as precautionary measure for the past few days.
Besides, two helicopters were pressed into service for aerial survey to monitor anti-social activities.
Extra vigil was maintained at Garwah where 520 polling booths were identified as sensitive of 614 spread over the district.
Director General of Police J B Mahapatra said elaborate security arrangements had been made to avoid landmine explosions adding 157 routes in the entire constituency were identified where the naxals were likely to plant landmines.
About 53 companies of paramilitary forces, including 17,000 security personnel, were deployed to ensure smooth polling at total 1,315 booths of which 683 were identified as sensitive all over the seat, the sources said.
Except for March 27 bus accident near here, where 16 polling personnel, mostly teachers, were killed and about as many injured, the electioneering was by-and-large peaceful.
EVMS were used in all polling booths, as an estimated 13,66,000 electorate were eligible to excercise franchise in the constituency, comprising two districts - Garwah and Palamu - spread over six Assembly segments-Daltonganj, Bhawnathpur, Chatarpur, Garwah, Hussainabad and Vishrampur.
At present, out of six Assembly seats, four were under the UPA allies.
Counting would be held on April 1.