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65 per cent voter turnout, violence in Northeast

Sporadic violence and an ambush marred an otherwise peaceful polling in four states.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2003 01:55 IST

Sporadic violence and an ambush marred an otherwise peaceful polling in four states which went to the hustings on Wednesday, with 65 to 72 per cent votes being cast.

Nearly 8.5 lakh voted to elect the governments in Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland. Clashes were reported in Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya.

In Tripura, which recorded 75 per cent turnout, a BSF vehicle was ambushed killing four BSF personnel, a polling staff and the driver. The militants looted arms from the dead cops. Police and BSF did not name the outfit responsible but sources said it could be All Tripura Tiger Force, which had called for poll boycott.

Police said at least 25 people were injured in sporadic violence throughout the state. Most of the incidents were reported from the interior and hilly areas.

The ruling CPI(M) and Opposition Congress-INPT alliance accused each other of booth rigging and unfair means. A poll official was arrested in Ramnagar constituency for allegedly indulging in malpractice.

Chief Electoral Officer of Meghalaya P.S. Thangkhiew said 65 to 70 per cent voting was witnessed in the state.

Police officials said polling at a booth in the frontier village of Nongtalang, in Jaintia Hills district, was suspended when a mob raided the booth at around 1.30 pm, and destroyed the Electronic Voting Machine.

In Himachal Pradesh, the weather, which had disrupted campaigning in the last leg, was generally pleasant, allowing "roughly 65 to 70 per cent polling in the state", according to Chief Electoral Officer Manisha Nanda.

Observers say whenever the state recorded a high turnout, there has been a change of government. "It's a positive signal for the Congress," said Himachal Congress chief Vidya Stokes.

In Nagaland, one person was killed as party workers clashed in Chief Minister S.C. Jamir's constituency. About 70 per cent voting was recorded in the state, according to EC officials.

Around 40 per cent polling was recorded in the by-poll to Pampore Assembly segment in J&K.

In UP, the bypolls for Gauriganj and Haidergarh Assembly seats were marred by violence. About 54.6 per cent voter turnout was reported here. Counting of votes will be taken up on March 1.


Arrests in J&K

A dozen leaders and functionaries of the Hurriyat Conference were arrested when police raided their homes and offices in Srinagar on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Sources said the arrests were a precautionary measure on the eve of polling in the Pampore Assembly segment.

HTC, Srinagar

First Published: Feb 27, 2003 00:00 IST