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One killed, 100 injured in Andhra poll violence

Large-scale violence during the second phase of polling in the state left one person dead and more than 100 injured.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Hyderabad
UPDATED ON APR 26, 2004 09:36 PM IST

Large-scale violence during the second phase of polling in Andhra Pradesh Monday left one person dead and more than 100 injured.

An activist of the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was killed and three were injured in a clash between TDP and Congress workers in the coastal district of East Godavari.

More than 100 people were wounded in clashes between activists of the two parties in all 10 districts as the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions went to the polls. Votes were cast in 21 Lok Sabha constituencies and 147 assembly constituencies. About 65 percent turnout had been recorded.

Locked in a fierce battle for power, the rival groups were reported to have indulged in large-scale violence and rigging at different places, particularly in East Godavari, West Godavari, Guntur, Kunrool, Anantapur and Cuddapah districts.

In Anantapur, police arrested the TDP candidate from Penugonda assembly constituency, Paritala Ravi, after he allegedly kidnapped and shot a Congress candidate.

Ravi, a member in the dissolved assembly who has many criminal cases pending against him, was reportedly roaming around with supporters attacking Congress activists. The injured Congress agent, Gangadhar, is battling for his life at Anantapur hospital.

Sixteen people were injured when Congress and TDP workers clashed with bombs in Rompicherla in the Narsaraopet assembly constituency of Guntur district. Police opened fire to disperse clashing groups and seized 60 crude bombs concealed in buckets. Health Minister Kodela Sivaprasad Rao was seeking re-election from this constituency.

At Nagri in Chittoor district, Congress workers allegedly attacked film actress and TDP candidate Roja. Congress activists reportedly did not allow her to enter a village.

Reports of clashes, kidnapping of polling agents, rigging and damage to electronic voting machines (EVMs) were also received from Cuddapah and Kurnool districts.

In other incidents not related to violence, a woman died of electrocution at a polling booth at Adoni in Kurnool district. A constable, a polling officer and a TDP polling agent died of heart attacks at different places in Cuddapah and West Godavari districts.

The coastal districts of East and West Godavari have a history of peaceful polling but this time the situation became tense apparently due to the no holds barred contest between the TDP and the Congress.

With both the parties trying to ensure a clean sweep in order to have better chances of returning to power, their activists appeared to have resorted to violence.

Like in the first phase, thousands of voters in the second phase too were agitated over finding their names missing from the voters' list. They entered into arguments with polling staff and staged protests at booths.

The first phase of polling in 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly constituencies last week was by and large peaceful.

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