Sporadic violence mars phase 2 LS polls

Sporadic violence mars phase 2 LS polls
Police personnel take away a protester after violent clashes at Chopra in Siliguri, Thursday.
NEW DELHI, APR 18 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 4/18/2019 12:05:07 PM IST

An IED blast in Chhattisgarh, firing in West Bengal and Manipur, clashes in Karnataka and EVM glitches in Bihar and Tamil Nadu marred polling for 95 seats across 11 states and the Union Territory of Puducherry in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections on Thursday.

According to the official figures released by the Election Commission, the second phase of Lok Sabha polls witnessed 67.84 per cent voter turnout.  “Barring sporadic incidents of violence, the polling went off peacefully,” Umesh Sinha, senior deputy election commissioner was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

Polling in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore seat was cancelled on Tuesday after the Election Commission received reports of cash seizure. Similarly, the EC also announced that the polling in Tripura (East) Lok Sabha constituency will take place during the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections 2019, citing law and order situation in the state.  Incidents of violence, road blockades, bombings and police firing were recorded in West Bengal and parts of Odisha. 

According to reports, a reporter and a cameraperson were allegedly manhandled when they were covering elections in Raiganj constituency, West Bengal. Voters in Uttar Dinajpur district’s Chopra under the Raiganj constituency reportedly put up a road blockade, complaining about the absence of central forces at the polling stations, the sources said. Police fired in the air and lobbed tear gas shells to control a mob, after stones were pelted at them and bombs were hurled by unknown persons in Chopra, a senior EC official in the district said. At least three persons were detained by police in this connection, he said.

Two people-- a polling officer and a voter died of heart attack during the voting process, news agency PTI reported. 

There were reports of EVM damages in Manipur and West Bengal. “A total of 1,000 ballot units, 769 control units 2,766 paper trail machines were replaced,” deputy election commissioner Sudip Jain told news agency PTI. According to EC figures, the interim voter turnout in Jammu and Kashmir was 43.4 per cent-- the lowest during the second phase of elections, and 78 per cent in Puducherry. 

Manipur, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu witnessed a voter turnout of above 70 per cent. 

Srinagar had witnessed 12.43 per cent voting till 3 pm. In 2014, Srinagar had witnessed the lowest polling percentage of 25.86. As many as 90 polling booths in Srinagar’s downtown area witnessed no voting, though former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah cast their votes in Sonawar assembly segment.

Polling in Chhattisgarh witnessed violence with an ITBP jawan suffering minor injuries after Naxals triggered an IED blast in Rajnandgaon district.

In Assam, an estimated 46.42 per cent of over 69 lakh electorate exercised their franchise till 1 p.m. in five parliamentary constituencies. According to the official, there were reports of EVM glitches in several booths, but the polling personnel have addressed the issues.

A former prime minister and four union ministers are in the fray in this phase of Lok Sabha polls in which the BJP is looking to defend 27 seats.  The Congress, besides seeking to defend 12 of the seats it won in 2014 polls and aiming to improve its performance in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha.

Lok Sabha polls are being held in seven-phases for 543 seats on April 11, April 18, April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19, and counting will be on May 23.

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