Midnapore (WB), July 11: Long serpentine queues in front of polling booths in the three districts of Jangalmahal, till recently a Maoist-stronghold, in today's panchayat elections signalled that peace was returning to the region.
Old-timers in all three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia told reporters they had not witnessed such enthusiasm among voters for many years.
The women, particularly, seemed very keen to exercise their franchise. Most of the long queues were filled with women, some of them very old with sticks to support them, a visit to a number of booths revealed.
In the once-feared Maoist strongholds of Pirakata, Bhimpur, Salboni and Goaltore in West Midnapore district, voters were seen patiently standing in long queues waiting for their turn to cast their vote.
Many women complained that it was taking unusually long for them to cast votes because of the ballot system as against EVM and also because of three sets of papers for Gram Panchyat, Panchayat Samiti and Zilla Parishad.
Except for sporadic clashes in some places in West Midnapore district, the voting remained peaceful everywhere. In Bankura's Bishnupur, a large number of Muslims were seen standing in queues.
Asked if today's voting had inconvenienced them during Ramzan, which started today when they go on fast, they mostly replied in the negative.