15 per cent polling in Chhattisgarh till 1000 hrs

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Raipur, Nov 14 (UNI) Amid reports of sporadic incidents of violence in the naxalite infested Bastar division, over 15 per cent polling was recorded till 1000 hrs in 39 Assembly constituencies in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections today.

In naxal-affected region, where polling started at 0700 hrs, the voting was around 12 per cent and in rest of the southern region where voting started at 0800 hours, the polling percentage was 18, Election office sources here said.

Moderate turn-out was witnessed in Rajnandgaon district where the polling was around 18 per cent. Chief Minister Raman Singh is also contesting for the Rajnandgaon seat.

In Durg district, about 14 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the first two hours.

In the Maoist infested north Bastar region, Narayanpur registered 12 per cent polling, Kanker 14 per cent and Bastar 10 per cent.

Sources said three Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were looted from Sangam, Chote-Biteya and Regawahi polling booths under Antagarh assembly segment in Kanker disrict. However, replacement had been set immediately and the polling process was not disrupted.

Meanwhile, reports of violent incidents were reported from Bastar division including injury to three policemen in a landmine blast at Gorkha in Bastar district and cross- firing between naxalites and securitymen at Farasgaon in Narayanpur district and at Kuknar in Dantewada district.

EC sources said polling was underway in full swing in all the 39 assembly seats under tight security arrangements.

Polling which started on a dull note picked up momentum later and long queques were witnessed at booths mostly in urban areas.

Similarly, even after the naxalites' call for poll boycott, voters in the naxalite-hit areas were reaching the booths to cast their votes in large number, the sources added.

(Eds; Pick up suitably from earlier series) UNI MB SP PK HT1205

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