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Record 93% turnout in Tripura
- Polling peaceful, star politicians flock to region ahead of Meghalaya, Nagaland elections

Agartala, Feb. 14: Elections to the ninth Tripura Assembly was a high-turnout, high-security affair today with 93 cent per cent voters exercising their franchise and charting a first in the country.

It was also by and large peaceful, marred only by the recovery of grenades by CRPF jawans and the death of a voter, apparently of natural causes.

The state, which witnessed a record 91.22 per cent turnout in the 2008 Assembly polls, managed the unique feat today of being the first Indian state ever to record a 93 per cent voter turnout.

Chief minister Manik Sarkar cast his vote at Umakanta School in Ramnagar constituency this morning, while PCC president Sudip Roy Burman and INPT president Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl voted at Agartala and Kulai in Dhalai district respectively.

Superintendent of police (police control) Uttam Bhowmik said cent per cent votes had been cast by 3pm in a number of polling booths in the hilly interiors of the state but long queues were visible in booths in the urban areas, including in the capital. “The general atmosphere was quite peaceful and people cast their votes smoothly,” he said.

Altogether 250 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed to maintain law and order, while the BSF sealed the 856km border with Bangla-desh and deployed additional forces to prevent infiltration.

Polling started on a brisk note from 7am, especially in the interior areas of the state. The pace could be gauged from the fact that 67.4 per cent votes were cast by noon in booth 32 in Jampui Jala Girls High School in Takarjala (ST) Assembly constituency. Booth 14 of Takarjala (ST) constituency saw 78.75 per cent voting by 12.30pm.

EVM glitches, however, delayed polling in a number of booths in Kailasahar and Chandipur Assembly constituencies in Unakoti district, Dhanpur and Sonamura constituencies in Sipahijala district and RK Pur constituency in Gomati district. New EVMs were installed and voting resumed after a 10-minute halt, officials said.

The peaceful atmosphere was marred by a few stray incidents reported from different parts of the state.

A voter, Sukumar Tanti, 35, collapsed while awaiting his turn in a queue outside booth 5 of Mohanpur Assembly constituency. He was declared brought dead after being taken to the Mohanpur primary health centre.

At Shantipara under Khayerpur Assembly constituency, CRPF jawans recovered five live grenades from the residence of Congress supporter Madhav Das, 34.

In another incident, five CRPF jawans deployed near polling booth 32 of Teliamura constituency were withdrawn following allegations that they were asking voters to vote for the Congress.

Sipahijala district magistrate J.K. Sinha relieved sector officer Badal Dey, an engineer in the rural development department, of his charge after the latter was allegedly spotted in neighbouring Charilam constituency instead of Golaghati (ST), where he was on duty. Election Commission observer Rajesh Sharma reported the matter to Sinha, who took prompt action, besides putting forward a proposal for Dey’s suspension from service, though the sector officer said he had gone to Charilam to have his lunch.

Police sources said two INPT supporters were injured in a clash with CPM workers in Ashrambari constituency under Khowai subdivision.