10th round of panchayat polls under way | patna | Hindustan Times
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10th round of panchayat polls under way

patna Updated: May 18, 2011 11:49 IST

Voting for the tenth and final round of Bihar panchayat polls began amid tight security on Wednesday morning and was proceeding peacefully, officials said.

According to Election Commission officials, voting is being held in 30 blocks -- five of them Maoist-affected -- in 21 districts to elect representatives for 15,767 village council posts.

Around 30 lakh voters were eligible to exercise their franchise while 52,188 candidates are in the fray. Voting started at 7am.

The commission had postponed elections in five districts -- Gaya, Aurangabad, Banka, Jamui and Rohtas -- which were scheduled to go to hustings in this round, due to fear of Maoist violence.

An official said that these districts will go to polls on May 21, May 24 and May 28, following an assurance by the state government to provide adequate security.

One polling official was killed while two were injured in a landmine blast triggered by the rebels Sunday in Jamui district during the ninth round of the panchayat polls. They also kidnapped seven officials, who were later released.

The first round of panchayat polls saw a police officer and a woman voter being killed in a rebel attack in Jamui. Similarly, one death was reported in the second and eighth round each.

Bihar Police Chief Neelmani said that armed security forces, including central paramilitary, have been deployed at polling booths to ensure free and fair polls.

Over five lakh "troublemakers and habitual offenders" have signed undertakings promising not to disrupt the polls, police said.

Last month, the State Election Commission had made it clear that if a candidate is attacked or intimidated during polls, his rival would be named in the police report.

The Maoists had issued a poll boycott call and threatened to disrupt the elections.

Elections in Bihar were once known for violence and booth capturing. In the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, 74 people were killed in poll-related violence. About 20 people were killed in the 2004 general elections and 158 during the 2001 panchayat elections.

The 10-phased polls for 2,62,000 panchayat posts will end May 28.