The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Phew! It's time to crash
Final round follows routine of first four

May 8: The final round of the country's first five-phase state poll that saw the largest deployment of the paramilitary concluded in north Bengal today.

Six districts recorded an average turnout of 72 per cent till 5 pm. The final figure is likely to cross 80 per cent as there were long queues at several booths till late evening.

Peaceful polls, above-average polling and long queues have been common to all five phases with both the Election Commission and the CPM claiming credit. The poll panel said it had instilled in voters a sense of security that spurred them to vote. The CPM claimed that its mobilisation of vo- ters to convey to the commission that polls in Bengal have always been free and fair proved a success.

As in the first four phases, the commission today recei- ved complaints of people not being allowed to vote despite carrying photo IDs.

The last phase over, deputy election commissioner Anand Kumar, who travelled to all the six districts today, said: 'I'm going to crash.'

Many government officers would have said the same.

One of them, who had gone missing two days ago apparently unable to bear the workload, surfaced today.

The Kumarganj block development officer, Ananda Mohan Sarkar, was traced to Ki-shangunj in Bihar, chief electoral officer Debashis Sen said in Calcutta.

Officials said Sarkar had gone missing in the wake of 'mounting workload and mental depression'.

A missing diary had been lodged with the police after the disappearance of Sarkar, a bachelor and resident of Kaliaganj in Malda.

Three people were arrested today. One of them in South Dinajpur, for campaigning with a dummy electronic voting machine near a booth. At Goalpokhar in North Dinajpur, two persons were arrested for transporting voters in a truck.

The presiding officer of a booth in Madarihat, Jalpaiguri, was removed from duty for letting in polling agents without identification badges.

The polls over, most of the central forces would move back to their bases. Only about 60 companies will stay back till the counting is over.

There are 98 counting centres across the state.

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