The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Arrows fly in bypoll battle

Poraiyahat (Godda), March 24: The bypoll battle for the prestigious Poraiyahat Assembly seat took a new turn today with JMM supporters shooting arrows to thwart alleged rigging by BJP cadre.

The action was aimed at BJP MP Pradeep Yadav and his cousin Ajit Kumar Yadav, the party nominee, who went on the rampage in pockets of the constituency. Low voter turnout marked the polling.

The BJP managed to “grab” the rural pockets but several polling stations witnessed pitched battles between supporters of the two camps. More than a dozen people were reported to be injured. The condition of two JMM activists, who received bullet wounds, is said to be critical.

Electronic voting machines added to the confusion and voting was hampered at several booths. The BJP, the JMM and other Opposition parties traded charges of “organised riggings”. The Opposition is backing the JMM’s Prashant Mandal.

BJP activists opened fire on JMM supporters near booth 158 at Sahari under Devdar police station of Godda district. JMM legislator Durga Soren alleged that Pradeep Yadav, the newly elected MP from Godda, instructed his associates to open fire on JMM workers who foiled their booth capture attempt.

Soren claimed that more than a dozen people were injured. SDO-cum-returning officer Arvind Chaudhary said the two JMM activists, Rajendar Hansdak and Meso Hansdak — who received serious gunshot wounds — were shifted to Godda Sadar Hospital.

BJP activists indulged in heavy brick-batting on the polling personnel and policemen at booths 70 and 71 at Passai village, a BJP stronghold. “We have already obtained permission to fire . If they start vandalism we will fire at them,” said an ASI-rank official, Mangal Bari, who was manhandled by the BJP activists.

Bari alleged that the mob attacked booths to snatch police weapons and the EVMs. Polling was held up for more than two hours as polling personnel refused to carry on. The situation was similar at booths 87 and 88 at Sakri, where tribals encircled the CRPF and Jharkhand Armed Police personnel with bows and arrows. “They want to capture the booths. We are ready to fire if they touch us,” said a CRPF jawan.

Heavy firing was reported at booth 85 at Kasturi, where RJD legislator Suresh Paswan was leading a mob to chase away the BJP workers. BJP leader Manohar Tekriwal attacked booths 149 and 150 at Kadma in Godda. Swift action by the security personnel saved the situation from slipping out of hand.

JMM president Sibu Soren alleged that the administration was a “mute spectator”.

BJP workers said the JMM supporters spread the rumours of irregularities because they faced “certain defeat”.

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