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Zero turnout in 21 polling booths

india Updated: Dec 03, 2009 15:51 IST
PTI
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Not a single vote was cast in 21 polling booths during the second phase of the assembly elections in Jharkhand's Maoist strongholds, officials said on Thursday.

"Not a single voter turned out on 21 polling booth in the second phase of the polls," said Ashok Kumar Sinha, joint chief electoral officer.

"There is no provision for repolling in such booths," Sinha told IANS.

Fourteen of Jharkhand's 81 assembly seats went to the polls Wednesday. Of the 14, 12 were situated in Maoist strongholds. In the morning, a paratrooper was killed when Maoist guerrillas triggered a blast at Giridih's Teliabahiyar village.

According to sources in the election department, two booths in the Dumri assembly constituency in Giridih district saw zero turnout as voters stayed away because of fear of the guerrillas.

Similar fear kept voters away in other places as well, including in the Tamar assembly seat where four polling booths saw zero turnout. At some places, polling officials left the booths at 2 p.m. -- an hour before polling closed.

The Tamar seat had come in the limelight this January when then chief minister Shibu Soren lost a bypoll there, leading to president's rule in the state.

Poll timing in all the assembly constituencies have been advanced for security reasons -- polling begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m.

Despite a Maoist boycott call, polling percentage was higher in the second phase than the first. Polling percentage on Wednesday was 54.2 percent, up from 53 percent in the first round.

The five-phase election process will end on Dec 18. Counting will take place on Dec 23.

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