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28 per cent polling till noon

Written by: Staff

Kolkata, Apr 27 (UNI) An estimated 28 per cent turnout was recorded till noon in the third phase of Assembly elections to 76 seats in Kolkata and adjoining North and South 24 Parganas districts in West Bengal with no untoward incidents reported so far.

Braving scorching sun, people turned out for voting in large numbers. Long queues were witnessed in front of most of the booths with women outnumbering men in several places.

Election office sources said while Kolkata recorded about 25 per cent polling, 30 per cent votes were polled both in North and South Twentyfour Parganas.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Debasish Sen and Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said the polling had so far been ''smooth and peaceful'' and no untoward incidents were reported so far.

However, at least six CPI(M) and three Forward Bloc workers were arrested from Bijpur and Jagatdal Assembly constituencies respectively for allegedly intimidating voters.

Tension ran high in front of a polling booth at Haltu in Jadavpur constituency, from where Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is seeking re-election, when a firecracker was burst which the voters mistook for a bomb explosion.

The panicked people, standing in queues, ran helter skelter as the security force jawans rushed out to nab two persons for the mischief. Besides, Chief Electoral Officer Debasish Sen was the first victim of faulty Electronic Voting Machine when he went to cast his vote at a booth in Prakash Bhawan under Belgachia East constituency. A technical snag in the EVM held up polling for about half an hour.

Later in the day, veteran CPI(M) leader Jyoti Basu cast his vote in the same booth.

In several booths under Manicktala, Belgachia East, Baranagar, Ashoknagar, Canning and Alipore constituencies, EVMs developed technical snags, forcing the polling to kick off late.

At a booth in Salt Lake area under Belgachia Assembly seat, Deputy Election Commissioner Anand Kumar was gheraoed by some 300 people, who protested against the deletion of their names from the electoral rolls despite having photo identity cards and demanded that they be allowed to cast vote.

Mr Kumar paid a patient hearing to what they said and assured them of looking into the matter.

More than 50,000 central para miliatry force jawans and mobile vans are manning all the 13,790 polling booths and patrolling streets.

(Eds: here pick up suitably from earlier seies).


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