As voting for the elections to state assembly of three Indian states drew to a close, the largest democracy of the world proved it’s faith in the democratic process once again. Even as grave threats ranging from Naxalite threats to local miscreants loomed large the three states witnessed an average of 66% voter turnout. Arunachal Pradesh saw the highest voter turnout among the three states pegged at around 72% of the electorate. One person was reported dead due to cardiac arrest in Haryana.
In the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra where the naxalites had recently killed 17 cops and beheaded an informer, the voter turnout was pegged at 55% amidst naxal threats that they would chop off the fingers of those who violated the naxal poll-boycott call. Reports said that they had even mobilized cadres from neighboring states of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh to disrupt the poll process. The naxals did manage to obstruct the polling parties from reaching 22 polling stations in Aheri, Gadchiroli and Armori. Naxals also opened fire at two separate locations at patrol parties. No one is reported killed or injured in the incidents. Reinforcement was sent to the location including commandos by an Air Force chopper.
Gadchiroli, barring some stray incidents of firing on polling stations, witnessed around 55 per cent voting. “Gadchiroli always surprises us; this time, too, it was good turnout,” Chawla told reporters.
Haryana witnessed minor clashes between the workers of political parties and precautionary police firing in some places. Arunachal Pradesh witnessed stray incidents of miscreants damaged Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in 16 polling stations. The process in Arunachal gains significance in light of the fact that large parts of the state are claimed by China and border tensions following reports of Chinese “incursions” have dominated the campaign.
In Arunachal, the polling parties faced hardships in reaching polling station even after using choppers, in 32 booths, the polling parties had to walk for a day to reach the spot, while in 13 booth, they had to walk through the jungles for almost 48 hours to reach the venues.
Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, briefing journalists, along with Election Commissioners S.Y. Quraishi and V.S. Sampath, described the elections as “very satisfactory.”
The counting of votes will be done on October 22.