At the end of first phase of polling in Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections, 70% turnout has been recorded.
A possible danger from the Maoists had prompted Election Commission to begin voting at different timings in the Red belt. Polling in 10 constituencies — Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta — is being held from 7 am till 3 pm, while in the other eight seats — Khairgarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot — the polling time is 8 am to 5 pm.
People in Dantewada's Madenda village turned up to cast their votes despite threats from Naxals that their fingers would be cut if the ink mark is seen on them. "There are 263 registered voters in the village and many are voting even after the threat," a local told ANI.
#Chhattisgarh: People in Dantewada's Madenda village cast their votes even after threat from the Naxals to cut their fingers if the ink mark is seen on their fingers. Local says, "there are 263 registered voters in the village and many are voting even after the threat." pic.twitter.com/WPDYX9OiEs— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
Polling Ends in 10 Constituencies | Polling in 10 constituencies — Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta — has ended. In the other eight seats — Khairgarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot — the polling will conclude at 5 pm.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise in the first phase of Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh. In a tweet, he requested voters of the state to participate in large numbers in "the festival of democracy". On election days, the Prime Minister often takes to Twitter urging people to vote in large numbers. In the first phase, voting will be held in18 out of 90 seats in Chhattisgarh. The second phase of polling will be held on November 20.
#BREAKING -- People ask me how I’m able to construct so many roads, electrify houses and improve the railway's infrastructure. I tell them that before us the money was stacked up below the beds and stacked inside cupboards: PM @narendramodi | #BattleForStates #ElectionsWithNews18 pic.twitter.com/T816ClHw2q— News18 (@CNNnews18) November 12, 2018
Two CoBRA Personnel Injured in Encounter with Naxals | Two CoBRA personnel were injured in an encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district on Monday, even as polling was underway for the first phase of the state elections, police said. The skirmish took place at a forest in Pamed area, located around 500 km from the state capital Raipur, when a team of security personnel was patrolling in view of the voting going on in the region, a senior police official told PTI. As per preliminary information, a group Naxalites opened fire on the patrolling team of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), a elite unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), he said. However, ultras fled from the spot after security personnel retaliated, he added. "Two CoBRA personnel, including a sub-inspector, received injuries in the incident," he said. Reinforcement was rushed to the spot and efforts were on to evacuate the injured commandos by a helicopter, he said.
23 % Voter Turnout Till Noon in First Phase of Chhattisgarh Elections | Around 23 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 12.30 pm in 18 Assembly constituencies in the first phase of Chhattisgarh elections on Monday, a poll official told PTI. An improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated early morning in Dantewada district by Naxals, who had called for a boycott of the polls, police said. Voting in nine seats of Bastar division and one seat in Rajnandgaon district began at 7 am while in the other eight seats, it started at 8 am. "Around 23 per cent polling has been registered till 12.30 pm. Voting is going on smoothly and peacefully," the poll official said.
Seen here, 103-year-old woman Soni Bai exercising her voting rights at a polling booth in Sukma in Gorgunda's Devarpalli. Soni Bai’s son carried her in his arms to the polling station.
Sukma: 103-year-old woman Soni Bai exercised her voting rights at a polling booth in Gorgunda's Devarpalli. His son carried her to the polling station in his arms. #ChhattisgarhAssemblyElections2018 pic.twitter.com/dIJk9kXrRN— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
PM Modi Addresses Rally in Bilaspur | Meanwhile, PM Modi is addressing a rally in Chhattisgarh's Bilaspur. “Our opposition still doesn’t know how to fight the BJP. We are focused on development, we went beyond the caste divisions. You can witness development wherever you go in Chhattisgarh,” PM Modi said.
ALSO READ | Bastar Votes Amid Fear that Leadership Change in CPI Maoist Could Mean More Violence
CPI Maoist has given call for boycott of these elections and by carrying out multiple attacks since October 27 has made its intentions clear.
Voters in Jagdalpur Stage Protest | Voters in Jagdalpur's Gandhi Nagar ward protest outside the polling centre. "The names of many voters are missing including those who have been living here for the past 25 years," they told news agency ANI.
#ChhattisgarhAssemblyElections2018: Voters in Jagdalpur's Gandhi Nagar ward protest outside the polling centre, say, "The names of many voters are missing including those who have been living here for the past 25 years." pic.twitter.com/AGri8PE626— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
'Voters from Interiors Areas Defying Naxals' Call for Election Boycott' | A thick security blanket, comprising over 1.25 lakh police and paramilitary personnel, was thrown across the 18 constituencies as they fall under the Naxal-hit areas of Bastar, Kanker, Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon districts. Sukma's Superintendent of Police Abhishek Meena said voters from interiors areas in the district were coming out to exercise their right to franchise, defying the Naxals' call for election boycott. In 'Bhejji 2' and Gorkha polling booths, zero voting was recorded in the 2013 polls, but this time 11 and 20 voters respectively had voted in the initial hours, he said.
Huge Turnout in Naxal-affected Manpur's Pardoni Village | Huge voter turnout at the polling station in Naxal-affected Manpur's Pardoni village where Naxali posters and banners asking people to boycott elections had been seen. Earlier, 1-2 kilograms of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was blasted by Naxals near Tumakpal camp in Katekalyan block.
Rajnandgaon: People queued up outside the polling station in Naxal-affected Manpur's Pardoni village where Naxali posters & banners asking people to boycott elections had been seen. #ChhattisgarhAssemblyElections2018 pic.twitter.com/dhu9oQkV2H— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
Polling Starts on a Slow Note in First Phase of Chhattisgarh Elections | Polling in 18 assembly constituencies in the first phase of the Chhattisgarh elections began on a slow note on Monday with about 14 per cent of the electorate casting their votes in the first few hours, a poll official said. An improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated early morning in Dantewada district by Naxals, who had called for a boycott of the polls, police told PTI. Voting in nine seats of Bastar division and one seat in Rajnandgaon district began at 7 am while in the other eight seats, it started at 8 am. "Around 14 per cent polling has been registered so far. The polling is going on smoothly and peacefully," an official said. Thirty-one EVMs and 61 VVPAT machines were replaced due to technical snags, a poll official said.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh asked youths, women and senior citizens to cast their votes in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections.
आज हमारे छत्तीसगढ़ में भारतीय लोकतांत्रिक व्यवस्था का महापर्व है। आप सभी युवाओं, महिलाओं और वरिष्ठजनों से मेरा यह आग्रह है कि छत्तीसगढ़ विधानसभा चुनाव-2018 के प्रथम चरण में आप सभी अपने मताधिकार का प्रयोग अवश्य करें। आपका मतदान ही राष्ट्र की ताकत है।— Dr Raman Singh (@drramansingh) November 12, 2018
Seen here, a differently-abled person reaching Chintagupha polling booth in Dantewada to cast his vote in the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections.
IED Detected Near Banda Polling Booth | An IED was detected near a polling booth in Konta's Banda after which voters were seen queued outside a makeshift polling booth set up under a tree, away from the actual polling booth. The voting for first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls is underway
Sukma: An IED was detected near a polling booth in Konta's Banda. Pictures of voters queued outside a makeshift polling booth established under a tree, away from the actual polling booth. #ChhattisgarhAssemblyElections2018 pic.twitter.com/kIK498ZRG2— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2018
People wait in queues to cast their votes during the first phase of Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh (PTI)
People queued up at polling station in Naxal-affected Manpur's Pardoni village amid posters and banners by Naxals, asking people to boycott polls. Around 23% voter turnout was recorded till 12.30 pm in 18 Assembly constituencies in the first phase of Chhattisgarh elections.
Around 12 pm, two soldiers of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) were injured after an encounter that broke out between security forces and Naxals in Bijapur's Pamed area.
Ahead of polling for first phase of Chhattisgarh elections, nearly two kilograms of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was detonated by Naxals near Tumakpal camp in Dantewada's Katekalyan block around 5:30 am. An official said that no personnel or polling party was injured in the incident. Tight security blanket is in place in 18 Assembly constituencies with over 1.25 lakh police and paramilitary personnel on vigil. Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat said that over 900 polling personnel have been arrived in helicopters due to threat from Naxals.
Earlier on Monday morning, voting was halted at a women's polling station, known as 'pink booth', in CM Raman Singh's Rajnandgaon district due to EVM malfunction. However, the polling was resumed shortly.
In the first phase, 190 candidates are in the fray and as per electoral rolls, there are 31,80,014 voters. Women voters outnumber men for the first phase of polling, with 16,22,492 female voters on the rolls against 15,57,435 men. There are 87 third gender voters as well.
Nearly one lakh security personnel have been deployed in the Naxal-affected districts amid the threat from Maoists who have called for a boycott of the elections. Naxal outfits have given calls for boycott of the election and executed over half-a-dozen attacks in the last 15 days, three of them major ones which left 13 people dead including a cameraman of national broadcaster Doordarshan who was covering the election campaign.
Security men have been asked to avoid patrolling on foot as Naxals are known to place iron spikes to inflict injuries. They have also been asked to maintain extra caution and sanitise polling booths and other premises in sensitive areas.
As many as 4,336 polling booths have been set up for the first phase and 19,079 polling personnel have been deployed. According to police, escorting polling parties to their destinations and bringing them back after the polls pose challenges to them in the Naxal hotbed.
"Around one lakh security personnel, including central paramilitary force, have been deployed to ensure peaceful polling in the first phase," Chhattisgarh's Special Director General (anti-Naxal operations) D M Awasthi said.
All counter measures have been taken to thwart attempts by Maoists to disrupt the poll process, he said. A total of 650 companies (roughly around 65,000 security personnel), including of paramilitary forces like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and other state forces, have been sent by the Centre for poll duty, he said.
These units are apart from the paramilitary personnel and 200 companies of state forces already engaged in the anti- Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh, Awasthi said. He said around 650 polling booth parties were airlifted by helicopters to remote areas while other teams were sent by road on Sunday. Choppers of the Indian Air Force and the BSF were pressed into service for the purpose, he said.
"The challenge is to escort all polling parties safely to their destination in Naxal-affected areas and later to conduct polls and bring back them safely," Awasthi said. He said there are inputs of Naxals planning to plant IEDs to target security men. "Therefore, a hawk eye was being kept on roads in such areas," the official said.
In the first phase, the prestige of nine sitting Congress MLAs -Manoj Singh Mandavi (Bhanupratappur), Mohan Lal Markam (Kondagaon), Lakheshwar Baghel (Bastar), Deepak Kumar Baij (Chitrakot), Devati Karma (Dantewada), Kawasi Lakhma (Konta), Girwar Janghel (Khairagarh), Santram Netam (Keshkal) and Daleshwar Sahu (Dongargaon) is at stake. Of the 18 seats going to polling in the first phase, 12 are reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) while one is for Scheduled Caste (SC) category. The second phase of polls will see voting in 72 seats on November 20.
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