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Rebel run mars poll last lap

April 10: Violence in parts of volatile Karbi Anglong and minority-dominated Dhubri marred the second and final phase of polling in Assam today, which also saw a marginally lower turnout than in the first phase of elections on April 3.

A CRPF sentry was kidnapped from near a polling booth and three security personnel were critically wounded in separate incidents in Karbi Anglong.

The other troublespot was Mancachar in Dhubri district. Repolling was ordered in two polling stations following a fracas over the alleged unavailability of special facilities that the Election Commission had promised to visually challenged voters in the wake of complaints during the first phase of polling.

A government release tonight said electronic voting machines with Braille signage were actually made available to visually challenged voters.

In Golakgunj constituency, also under Dhubri district, security personnel fired three rounds in the air to disperse rival political activists who had clashed in front of a polling station around 1.30 pm. Three teachers were placed under suspension for allegedly bribing voters. A polling officer, D.P. Roy, was caught trying to allegedly misguide blind voters.

The election office in Guwahati pegged the turnout at around 65 per cent, which is seven per cent lower than the final figure for the first phase of polling in 65 constituencies. Officials said the actual turnout during the second phase of polling ' in 61 constituencies with a total electorate of 82.27 lakh ' would be known by tomorrow afternoon.

Polling in North Cachar Hills district, adjacent to Karbi Anglong, the Bodoland Territorial Council-administered areas and the other Lower Assam districts was peaceful. No incident was reported from Barhampur, Tezpur and South Salmara either, which are the constituencies of former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, AGP president Brindaban Goswami and Assam United Democratic Front chief Badruddin Ajmal.

The first untoward incident of the day was the kidnapping of Musa Ganda, a member of the 169 Battalion of the CRPF, from near a polling station at Manja in Karbi Anglong. Militants are suspected to be behind the incident, which occurred at 6 am.

Two BSF jawans were wounded when suspected militants triggered an improvised explosive device at Bhelughat, under Howraghat police station, at 2.10 am. Travelling on a bus from Dokmoka, the jawans were targeted near Mulaganj LP School.

In another incident just after polling ended, militants ambushed a team of election personnel at Borpung, under Bokajan subdivision of the district. A CRPF jawan was injured.

Reports of the United People’s Democratic Solidarity and the breakaway Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front intimidating voters came in throughout the day.

The murder of a schoolteacher by suspected former militants last night had triggered apprehension about the possibility of violence in the Bodo-dominated areas, too, but polling went off without any major hitch. Chetnaguri resident Lwithwma Borgoyari, adviser to the Simbargaon unit of the All Bodo Students Union and lifetime member of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, died in an attack with sharp weapons around 11 pm.

Four persons, all members of the disbanded Bodo Liberation Tigers, were arrested for the murder.

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