Toll in firing rises to 3; counting of votes on across Assam

 Death toll in the firing incident by security force personnel at a polling booth in Dhubri district of Assam went up to three with one of the injured succumbing to his injuries this afternoon.

Earlier, twenty people were killed in violence across Goalpara district during the third and last phase of panchayat elections on February 12.

Protesting the "delay" in counting in Hatsingimari subdivision under Mancachar Assembly constituency, supporters of the contestants pelted stones and attacked the security and counting personnel leading to a chaotic situation this morning, official sources said.

Security forces opened fire to quell the mob. While two persons died on the spot, one more succumbed to his injuries later in the day.

Eleven people, including four policemen were injured and are undergoing treatment at hospitals in Dhubri.

Indefinite curfew has been imposed in Hatsingimari subdivision and counting of votes has been stopped in the area.

Sources said that the situation at the place was tense but under control.

Meanwhile, counting of votes of the panchayat polls in the state continued for the second day across 380 centres in Assam with the ruling Congress maintaining a steady lead, as per State Election Commission (SEC) sources.

Counting of votes started in Goalpara district this morning. The SEC has delayed the counting process in the district by a day, after the violence marred polling on February 12.

There has been no fresh incidents of violence in the district during the past 24 hours.

The state government has set up 20 relief camps in the district for people affected in the violence and 17,949 people have taken shelter in those camps.

Curfew was relaxed in Krishnai and Mornoi areas of Goalpara from 6 am to 8 pm today even as the Army deployed since the panchayat poll day on February 12 was carrying out flag marches in sensitive areas of the district.

Former Congress minister Ripun Bora sustained injuries when a rival party supporter hit him at a counting centre in Gohpur in central Assam's Sonitpur district.

As Bora was congratulating his victorious party candidate at the counting centre in Chariduar College, the son of a losing candidate hit him causing injury on his forehead, sources said.

The former education minister was rushed to a hospital and was later released after administering first aid. The assailant identified as Rupen Biswas, was apprehended by the police.

An independent candidate allegedly committed suicide today after losing an election in Kamrup (Rural) district, police said.

Mintu Das, who had contested from 114 Ganmou village panchayat in Sualkuchi, hanged himself in his house after losing the elections.

Till 7 pm, the ruling Congress had either won or was leading in 173 seats of Zilla Parishad members across the state, followed by the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in 49, Asom Gana Parishad in 16, BJP in 10, Ganashkati in five, and others in four.

Commenting on the results so far, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said, "people have once again put their faith" in the ruling party.

Regarding the AIUDF success in Dhubri and Barpeta and of the BJP in parts of upper Assam, Gogoi said: "In some areas, opposition parties may have gained some ground but what matters is the final tally."

AGP president and former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta accused the ruling party of misusing government machinery and resorting to rigging.

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