Voters snub Naxal call; over 50 pc turnout in Chh'garh phase 1

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Raipur, Nov 14 (UNI) Rebuffing a poll boycott call by Naxalites, over 50 per cent of the voters today exercised their franchise in by and large peaceful polls to 39 seats in the first phase of Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh.

The polling percentage was about 35 in 12 constituencies of naxalism-affected Bastar division where voting concluded at 1500 hrs, state Election Office sources said here.

As many as 379 candidates were in the fray in the first phase and their fate was sealed in Electronic Voting Machines by 1700 hrs at the conclusion of polling.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported in Bastar division where at least three policemen were injured in a landmine blast, four poll officials abducted by Maoists and voting disrupted in about 15 booths due to snatching of EVMs.

The Election Commission of India will announce the official poll percentage after 1800 hrs.

Rajnandgaon, the home district of Chief Minister Raman Singh who is also contesting from there, recorded over 55 per cent voting. Dr Singh and his wife Bina cast their votes at Kailashnagar booth in Kawardha constituency in the final hour of polling.

Senior officials said that people participated in a major way in voting in the insurgency-affected region, rejecting a poll boycott call by the ultras.

Extremists had gunned down Congress worker Trinath Thakur while he was campaigning in Dantewada district's Gadapal village yesterday.

Eds: Pl pick up suitably from earlier series.

UNI MB AC RR ND1840

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