Despite threats by Naxals to boycott the elections in Chhattisgarh, the voters came out in satisfactory numbers to cast their votes. Around 70 % voter turnout was registered in the first phase of the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls, said EC on Monday. Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha informed that the percentage turnout was likely to go up as the final figures were yet to be received.
In the first phase, voting was held in 18 of the 90 Assembly seats in Chhattisgarh.
The voter turnout percentage was around 25 percent by 1pm which gradually increased to 58.55 percent by 5.30 pm.
According to data provided by EC, a voter turnout of 61.47 % was recorded in Kondagaon, 63.51 % in Keshkal, 62 % in Kanker, 58 % in Bastar, 49 % in Dantewada, 70.14 % in Khairagarh, 71 % in Dongargarh, 71 % in Dongargaon and 72 % in the Khujji constituency.
As the first phase of polls was held in naxal dominated areas, security was beefed up to avoid any untoward incident. Around one lakh security personnel, including paramilitary forces, were posted in the state.
Although the security was tightened, there were few incidents reported where the naxals had tried to disrupt the polling process. A group of Naxalites had opened fire on the patrolling team of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), at a forest in Pamed area, located around 500 km from the state capital Raipur. Three CoBRA personnel were injured and around five Naxals had been killed in the encounter.
In another incident, two Naxals were shot down in the evening in an encounter with security forces in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. Sukma Superintendent of Police Abhishek Meena told PTI that “the gunfight took place in forests near a village under Pushpal police station when a team of the District Reserve Guard (DRG) was returning after discharging election-related duty”.
Two others Naxal were caught alive from the spot, the police officer said. Sukma is one of the eight Naxal-affected districts where polling was held Monday in the first phase of elections covering 18 assembly seats.
The second phase of the Chhattisgarh election will be held on November 20 and the votes will be counted on December 11 along with that of of Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Rajasthan where assembly polls will be held over the coming weeks.