Meghalaya: 1 killed, 27 pc voter turnout till noon

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Shillong, Mar 3: Barring the killing of a Congress worker in Selsella constituency, polling for the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly progressed peacefully as an estimated 27 per cent of the 12.30 lakh electorate voted till noon today to decide the fate of 331 candidates. Polling began on a sluggish note in all the 1,582 polling booths amid tight security.

However, as the day progressed, voters were seen queuing up in front of the polling stations to exercise their franchise.''There has been no report of threats or intimidations from any political party, barring the killing of a Congress worker in Selsella Assembly constituency in the early hours today,'' Chief Electoral Officer P Naik told UNI here.

Bangbang Marak(30) succumbed to injuries after three persons, alleged to be supporters of Nationalist Congress Party, assaulted him, West Garo Hills District, Superintendent of Police JF Marak told UNI here over phone from Tura.

''People have started to queue up at polling stations and the voter turnout is expected to increase during the later part of the day,'' Mr Naik said.

Election to Baghmara seat in South Garo Hills was countermanded following the death of Congress MLA and candidate Sengran M Sangma on February 16. Election would be held there on March 22.

Incumbent Chief Minister D D Lapang and five former chief ministers including J D Rymbai, Dr FA Khonglam, E K Mawlong and SC Marak besides, former Lok Sabha Speaker and NCP's chief ministerial candidate PA Sangma cast their ballots in their respective constituencies.

Nine cabinet ministers, one Minister of State, besides multi-millionaire Congress MLA Debora C Marak, UDP president and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Donkupar Roy, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Mukul M Sangma, amongst others also exercised their franchise.

Of the 60 constituencies, 36 are in the Khasi Jaintia Hills region and 24 in Garo Hills region. Altogether, 39 Poll Observers and 117 Magistrates also headed to their respective destinations to oversee the polls. Assisting these officials would be personnel from 26 state police and 41 additional paramilitary companies to ensure free and fair polls.

In all the polling stations, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) would have Braille-coded push buttons this time for the physically challenged. Special ramps were also erected for handicapped people in all the polling booths. Counting will be held on March 7.

UNI

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