Bihar voters brave Maoist bombs and landmines

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Old 02-Nov-2010
Bihar voters brave Maoist bombs and landmines

Patna: Bomb explosions and landmine blasts set off by Maoists and criminals did not faze people in Bihar from casting their votes in the fourth phase of the state legislature elections yesterday.

A total of 42 assembly constituencies in eight districts went to the polls yesterday.

More than 50 per cent of voters cast their ballots in the fourth phase. What was significant was that an impressive turnout of voters was reported even in areas hit by Maoist violence such as Lakhisarai, Jamui, Banka, Munger and Khagaria.

Almost all the districts that went to the polls such as Bhagalpur, Munger, Jamui, Lakhisarai, Banka, Begusarai, Khagaria and Patna are struggling with organised crime, communal conflict or Maoist violence. The police arrested 215 people, including 132 in Patna alone, for trying to incite disturbances.

There was panic as a series of blasts rocked the Danapur area of the state capital Patna as people lined up to cast their votes. Eight bomb blasts in the area left at least six people wounded.

Angry voters later went on a rampage demanding that those behind the attacks be arrested. Television footage showed people chasing alleged criminals who had set off the blasts. People were seen surrounding a building where the criminals had apparently taken shelter.

The police soon took action and arrested those suspected of setting off the bombs, but the angry crowd insisted that the police hand over the suspects. The police then staged flag marches in the area to restore confidence in the community. "We have arrested the criminals and the entire situation is normal now," state director general of police Neelmani told the Gulf News.

In Jamui district, Maoists triggered landmine blasts to scare voters away from polling booths but no one was injured. Police said the extremists retreated into the neighbouring jungles when Border Security Force personnel retaliated. In neighbouring Lakhisarai district, the extremists put up poll boycott banners but voters still turned up in large numbers.

Prominent politicians who cast their votes yesterday included Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi.

More than 14 million people voted to decide the fate of 568 candidates, including 58 women, in the latest round of voting.

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