Voters stepped out in large numbers in Munger on Thursday, even where Maoist fear postponed polls, while some parts saw pitched battles on caste lines.
Suraj Kumar (10) of Berha, under the jurisdiction of Munger’s Barh police station, was returning from tuition, when he fell to bullets and died. Police sources said supporters of a ruling party MLA allegedly tried to stop some backward caste residents from voting. Angry residents attacked the MLA’s house and Suraj was killed in the crossfire.
Voters did not turn up at booth Nos 204, 204(A) and 205, Middle school, Purushottampur, and booth Nos 205 and 206, Middle school, Musharitola, following caste tension between Jawait and Billia residents. Tension had been prevailing for some time but it peaked on Thursday morning when people from Paswan tola raised the issue of an assault on Jaiprakesh Paswan (54) on April 14. Munger district magistrate Narendra Singh, also the returning officer, confirmed the poll boycott but was mum about the caste tension.
In Dharhara block, voters were raring to vote but polling was postponed in four booths after security personnel refused to turn up fearing Maoist attacks. Sunil Kumar (28), a medical practitioner from Jamshedpur and resident of Shakol hamlet, reached booth No 71, a primary school, to find no polling personnel. No voter had turned up in 2009. But on Thursday, people of seven panchayats had mobilised all to vote over drought and rebels. Polling was also postponed in booth No 65, primary school, Birojpur, booth No 76, middle school, Jainti Gram, Lakarkola and booth No 77, primary school, Satgharwa. “I don’t know why forces refused to go for polling when voters were ready to vote,” Singh said.
Munger superintendent of police (SP) Barun Kumar Sinha said: “We had alerts about possible landmine blast and ambush.” SP (operations) Navin Kumar said: “Booths here are at the foothills of the Dharhara hills. Anything untoward is possible from the hills.” Despite the boycott call, over 50 per cent votes had been cast in other Dharhara booths by noon. It was below 30 per cent in 2009.