Heavy turnout in 2nd phase in C'garh, around 70 pc polling

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Raipur, Nov 20 (UNI) An estimated 70 per cent of the 8.8 million voters have exercised their franchise in the second and final phase of elections in Chhattisgarh in 51 assembly constituencies today.

Polling was by and large peaceful except for some isolated incidents of dispute between rival political parties, voters and security persons.

State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Alok Shukla told UNI here that polling for the second phase passed off peacefully.

There are reports of voters still in the queues when the polling ended at 1700 hrs in several booths. These voters would be eligible to cast their votes.

Till 1500 hours, polling average in the second phase was around 55 per cent.

In the first phase of elections for 39 seats on November 14, about 70 per cent polling was recorded, while voting in naxalite-affected Bastar division was just over 50 per cent.

Sporadic incidents of violence was reported in the first phase in the Bastar division in which a CRPF havaldar and an Indian Air Force (IAF) engineer were killed and four security men were injured in Maoist firing.

The Election Commission, taking some stern action, has suspended a sector magistrate Ajay Mishra in Surajpur area of Premnagar assembly constituency in Sarguja district for dereliction of duty.

Similarly, 56 polling personnel were also suspended in Korba for poll-related irregularities. These polling personnel including some presiding officers did not turn up for poll duties.

According to reports received from Raigarh, voters of five polling booths in Bayasi under Dharamjaigarh constituency, were boycotting polls to protest non-development of the area.

Meanwhile, two presiding officers deployed in the election process in Raipur district died today due to heart attack.

Presiding officer Pyare Lal Dhruv, who was posted at Telibandh booth of Raipur North constituency, died of heart attack early this morning. Another presiding officer K K Jena, who was incharge of Gariabandh booth in Rajim Assembly segment, died of massive heart attack just before the polling started.

(Eds: Pick up suitably from earlier series) UNI MB PS 1726

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