People defy boycott, bandh to vote in panchayat polls

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Guwahati, Dec 31 (UNI) More than 50 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the first phase of panchayat election in Assam today, as people defied a poll boycott and statewide bandh by six communities, to exercise their franchise.

In the otherwise-largely peaceful polling, four persons were injured in a leopard attack near a polling station in Sivsagar district. The upper Assam districts went to the polls in the first phase. The tea tribes had given a poll boycott call, along with members of five other communities, Koch-Rajbonshi, Ahom, Moran, Mottock and Chutia.

Though minor incidents of boycott supporters forcibly trying to enforce the boycott and bandh were received, no major incident was reported. Close to 40 lakh voters sealed the fate of over 26,000 candidates in the first phase. Sources at the State Election Commission informed that more than 50 per cent voters had exercised their franchise and the final figures, which would be available later in the night, would take the percentage higher.

The sources also said that polling in three constituencies in Lakhimpur district was stopped after public complained of a defect in the ballot papers. No reports of violence has been received yet, the source added.

In a leopard attack near Ujanikuchi polling station under Sapekhati police station in Sivsagar district, four persons, including two PSOs of Sivsagar ASP Akhilesh Singh, were injured.

One of the injured, Debaru Murhu, was bitten on the head and was admitted to the Sapekhati civil hospital in a critical condition.

The other three were stated to be out of danger.

The second phase of panchayat election in the middle Assam districts would be on January four, the third phase in lower Assam on January 9 and in Darrang district, on January 24. Counting would take place on January 28.

UNI

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