Bihar polls: Voters queue up to cast ballot

Patna, Oct 16 (IANS) Voters queued up at many polling stations in Bihar hours before the start of the second phase of assembly election on Friday, though women are yet to come out in large numbers to cast their ballot.

Polling began at 7 a.m. in 32 of the 243 constituencies, including Maoist-affected areas, spread across six districts, officials said.

Most of the 8,849 polling booths are in rural areas, while 456 candidates are in the fray.

Five helicopters, drones and 993 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed for this phase, said Additional Chief Electoral Officer R. Lakshmanan.

Around 5 percent of the 8.58 million voters eligible to cast their ballot had voted in the first hour, the official said.

The districts where polling is under way are: Gaya, the birthplace of Buddhism, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal, Kaimur and Rohtas, which saw some horrific caste massacres in the 1980s and 1990s.

Some of these areas are also known as Maoist hubs, and officials admit security will be a major concern.

In the last two days, more than half a dozen bombs were seized in Gaya and Rohtas districts, planted allegedly by the Maoists to disrupt the elections, a police officer said.

Polling in Maoist-hit areas will end at 3 p.m.

The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist earlier this month vowed to intensify attacks to disrupt the election process.

According to Association for Democratic Reforms and the National Election Watch, 142 candidates in the second round face serious criminal charges including those of murder.

The staggered elections to pick a new assembly will end on November 5. The result will be known three days later.

In the first phase on Monday, polling was held in 49 constituencies. The third round will be held on October 28.

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