The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Violence mars battle for Bodo vote

Kokrajhar, May 13: Dropping all pretence of bonhomie, Rajya Sabha member Urkhao Gwra Brahma and Bodoland People’s Progressive Front (BPPF) president Rabiram Narzary tonight demanded the arrest of former militant leader Hagrama Mohilary after widespread violence marred the first elections to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

At least 12 people were injured, three of them critically, as the battle for the Bodo mandate turned into an ugly spectacle.

Four supporters of Mohilary ' at the helm of the interim BTC ' were mauled by angry voters while trying to capture booths. Left with bloodied faces and bodies, the quartet had to be shifted to Guwahati Medical College and Hospital. Official vehicles were damaged at several places.

Both Brahma and Narzary accused Mohilary of masterminding the attempts to rig the polls. The duo said the interim BTC chief, who used to lead the militant Bodo Liberation Tigers, encouraged his supporters to snatch ballot boxes “wherever he found that the people are against him”.

Several former leaders of the Bodo Liberation Tigers contested the elections as Independent candidates because they were denied tickets by the BPPF. Mohilary publicly supported these dissident candidates despite being a key member of the party and being elected without a contest.

Narzary’s opponent in Banargaon, where polling was stopped at noon, is one of the dissidents. The BPPF chief accused Mohilary of using unfair means to ensure that his former militant comrade, Monoj Brahma, defeated him.

In Dotma, a mob shouted slogans against Mohilary and demanded his arrest. “He was a hero in our eyes but his actions have proved that he is no better than a villain. How can a person of his status indulge in rigging openly'” a person in the crowd asked.

The mob barricaded the residence of the Independent candidate for the Dotma seat, Daken Brahma, as news of rigging spread. The police later escorted him to Kokrajhar.

The Mohilary camp claimed it was Narzary, a former president of the All Bodo Students Union, who led a group of supporters in rigging the polls. The interim BTC chief demanded that elections in Dotma and Banargaon be countermanded.

State election commissioner Nani Gopal Sharma said his department was making an assessment of the elections and would announce repolling wherever necessary on the basis of the reports submitted by the presiding officers.

Baksa constituency recorded 59 per cent poling, Chirang’s percentage was 65.66 and Kokrajhar’s between 62 and 65. There was no official statement on the turnout in Udalguri. Not a single vote was cast in the five booths of Parbatjora.

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