Election ends on a violent note

Battle for Bihar: 2 cops killed while defusing bomb; counting on Nov 24

Watchful: A security personnel guards as voters stand in queues to exercise their franchise at a polling station in Aurangabad on Saturday. Pti

Counting of votes will be held on November 24 after the keenly fought elections spread over a month in the politically crucial state in which development issues appeared to override caste factor.

A Bihar Military Police constable and a homeguard were killed and nine others, including three journalists, injured when a landmine planted by Maoists exploded as a BMP bomb disposal squad attempted to defuse it near Londa village in Gaya district, police sources said.

The Maoists had renewed their poll boycott call for the final phase of polling in which the voter turnout in the remaining 26 seats was an estimated 51 per cent. An average 53 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise in the previous five phases of the polls that commenced on October 21.

The injured were hospitalised with the condition of two stated to be critical, the sources said.

Spirited campaign

The elections were marked by a spirited campaign by top leaders of various parties in which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, heading a JD(U)-BJP coalition, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, clashed over development issues. RJD leader Lalu Yadav also campaigned extensively to woo voters in his inimitable style.

A Railway Protection Security Force constable suffered splinter injuries when the Maoists detonated a pressure mine while a patrol was crossing a hilly dry rivulet near the Barachatti police station area in Gaya district, Director-General of Police Neelmani said.

Securitymen seized dud bombs at three booths in Kasma in Aurangabad district and at Ghatera booth under the Guraru police station in Gaya district, he said.

The Maoists exchanged fire with security personnel at Matiawan in Sasaram but no one was killed or injured, he said. They also engaged securitymen in Tardih hills under the Chenari Assembly constituency in Rohtas district but no casualty was reported, Superintendent of Police Vikas Baibhav said. Neelmani said 35 people were arrested during polling hours.

Of the constituencies in Gaya, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Kaimur and Buxar districts, 18 were declared Naxalite-hit where polling was held between 7:00 am and 3:00 pm.

Security

Altogether 35,000 security personnel and four BSF helicopters were deployed as part of tight security arrangements for Saturday’s elections.

The four helicopters, including an MI-17 and a Dhruv, kept air surveillance over Gaya, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Buxar and Kaimur districts with Special Task Force commandos onboard.

Prominent among the 426 candidates whose fates were sealed in EVMs were Speaker and JD(U) leader Uday Narayan Choudhary (Imamganj), BJP minister Awadhesh Narayan Singh (Dehri), JD(U) ministers Chhedi Paswan (Mohania) and Anil Kumar (Tekari).

Others were former Union minister and RJD leader Kanti Singh (Chenari), besides senior RJD leaders Shakeel Ahmed Khan (Sherghati), Suresh Paswan (Kutumba) and Iliyas Hussain (Dehri).

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