'48-50pc voters cast ballot in phase III of UP polls'

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Lucknow, Apr 18: An estimated 48 to 50 per cent of the 1.5 crore voters &13;today used their franchise in a by and large peaceful third phase of assembly &13;election in Uttar Pradesh.

A total of 57 constituencies spread over 10 districts had gone to polls during &13;phase three.

State additional chief electoral officer (CEO) Devesh Chaturvedi said the &13;polling percentage was likely to be around 48 to 50 per cent, more than the &13;voting percentage in the previous two phases which recorded around 46 per cent.

By and large peaceful election was marred by the death of an Indo-Tibetan &13;Border Police Force (ITBPF) jawan in Amroha in a case of accidental fire. &13;Police said Madan Mohan reportedly died of self-inflicted wounds when his &13;automatic weapon went off accidentally.

In Pilibhit and Shahjahanpur districts, a heavy downpour in the afternoon &13;prevented voters from coming out in large numbers. ''But after 1500 hrs, the &13;voter turn out was heavy across all constituencies,'' said a police official &13;here.

Polling passed off peacefully with no untoward incident reported from &13;anywhere.

Mr Chaturvedi told UNI here that till 1500 hrs, the official poll percentage &13;was 38 per cent.

He said the polling was peaceful except for some preliminary teething trouble &13;reported from several places due to non-functioning of the Electronic Voting &13;Machines(EVMs).

''These machines were replaced immediately,'' he said.

&13;&13; Polling took place at 14884 polling booths. Meanwhile, a report from &13;Farrukhabad said state Congress president Salman Khurshid and his wife and &13;party candidate from Kayamganj seat Louis Khurshid could not vote as their &13;names were missing from the electoral rolls. District authorities have directed &13;the officials to investigate the matter.

In Rampur, senior Congress leader and former MP Noor Bano and state urban &13;development minister Mohammad Azam Khan exercised their franchise.

In Gunnaur assembly constituency, from where chief minister Mulayam Singh &13;Yadav was contesting, the polling was peaceful but the turnout was low.

Till 1500 hrs, Gunnaur recorded only 23 per cent polling whereas in the &13;bypolls held in 2003 to elect Mr Yadav, there was a record voting of 90 per &13;cent.

Encouraged by the violence-free polling in Phase-I on April 7 and Phase-II on &13;April 13, the EC had further tightened security arrangements for polling in the &13;third phase in communally sensitive Moradabad, Rampur and Bijnor districts of &13;the state.

Security forces conducted flag march while the international border with Nepal &13;in Pilibhit and inter-state borders were sealed.

Central Para Military Forces were deployed at all polling booths and sensitive &13;areas to ensure free and fair polling.

Deputy Election Commissioner J P Prakash kept a constant vigil in the &13;sensitive areas using a helicopter while each of the 57 constituencies has been &13;provided with one additional central observer to monitor the polling.

More than 660 companies of central para military forces, along with 60,000 &13;state police were deployed for polling in this phase which include several &13;communally sensitive districts like Amroha, Moradabad, Rampur, Bijnor, Sambhal &13;and Bareilly.

Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav (Gunnaur), deputy speaker of the state &13;legislative assembly Rajesh Agarwal of BJP (Bareilly city), state Urban &13;Development minister Mohammad Azam Khan (Rampur) are among the 861 candidates &13;whose fate have been sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines(EVMs) today.


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