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Peaceful repoll in rebel zone

Repolling at 33 polling booths spread over five Lok Sabha constituencies in south and central Bihar passed off peacefully on Sunday barring a brief encounter between rebels and security forces in Nawada.

The repolling was held on the directive of the Election Commission, which had received complaints both from the polling personnel and the representatives of different political parties.

In Nawada, Maoists intercepted a group of security personnel and engaged them in a brief encounter. However, there was no report of any casualty or injury from any side.

After the polling was over, additional state chief electoral officer R. Lakshmanan said: “The repolling at all the booths in five Lok Sabha constituencies passed off peacefully with no untoward incident. An average of 42.44 per cent of polling was recorded.”

Lakshmanan said polling started at 7am and concluded at 3pm owing to security reasons. Aurangabad recorded the highest at 54 per cent followed by Gaya (SC) where 53.4 per cent was recorded. Karakat recorded 46.92 per cent. The polling percentage in Nawada and Jamui (SC) stood at 28 and 29 per cent, respectively, he said in Patna.

The commission had earlier received complaints of disruption of polls on these polling stations during the first phase on April 10. All the constituencies that went to polls were located in Maoist-hit areas. However, defying the Maoists poll boycott call, voters had turned up at the polling stations in large numbers.

A report from Jamui said repolling was held at 19 booths. “After deployment of the security forces, polling personnel finally reported to booths. Flying squads and surveillance teams were also pressed into service to ensure smooth conduct of repolling,” a poll official said,

However, Maoists made an attempt to engage some troopers in Nawada when they were returning to the headquarters after the polling was over. Sources said a group of heavily armed rebels attacked the security personnel after they were returning from booths Nos. 255 and 256 near Mahwal turning and Kauwakol. However, a polling booth located at Manwa in Nawada recorded only six per cent polling.

Several representatives of the Congress and the BJP have expressed anguish over the location of some polling stations in Sasaram Lok Sabha constituency on the foothills of the Kaimur plateau.