First-time voters outside a booth at Karmatand in Gomia on Thursday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Bokaro, April 17: Electorate launched a “counter-offensive” against extremism, coming out in large numbers to exercise their franchise on a day the Maoists tried their best to scare away voters in the Giridih constituency.
If rebels triggered landmines targeting security forces and blew up railway tracks in Gomia block, voters, especially in rural areas, rushed to polling booths to “register their protest” in EVMs against Naxalism.
Huge turnouts were recorded in all the three Assembly segments — Bermo, Gomia and Dumri — which fall in Bokaro district and are parts of the Giridih seat.
According to Bokaro deputy commissioner Uma Sankar Singh, the parts of the district that fall under Giridih seat recorded around 61 per cent voting today.
Even Nawadih, Upar Ghat, Jhumra — notorious for Naxalism — witnessed more than 30 per cent polling by 11am, sending out a clear message to the rebels that the people are in no mood to obey any diktat.
According to sources, the rural voters beat their urban counter parts.
Three girls, Dolly Kumari, Razia Tabbasum and Minu Kumari, cast their vote for the first time today at a polling booth at Karmatand in Gomia.
The brave, young girls summed up the overall mode of the citizens here.
“We are very happy that we used our voting right. We fear none, despite living in a Naxalite-affected zone. Why should we obey their commands for poll boycott? They are not our leaders,” said the three girls in unison.
Parmeshwar Mahto, a resident of Jamnijara village in Jhumra, said this zone needed development. “There is no drinking water, no electricity and no healthcare facility. We can hope to get all these facilities only if we elect our own MP,” he said, coming out of a booth after casting his vote.
Cousin Ram Chandra Prasad Mahto echoed Parmeshwar and asked, “Why should we obey Maoists?”
Common people’s confidence and courage surprised even the district administration.
Speaking to The Telegraph in Nawadih block, Bokaro SP Jitendra Singh said the objective was to bring everyone back into the fold of democracy.
“This election has definitely proved that Maoists have failed in their mission and rural masses have defied their diktat. Record percentage of voting in Naxalite zones proves democracy has won,” Singh added.