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Dozen landmines found, tragedy averted in Gaya

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Abdul Qadir,TNN | Apr 11, 2014, 03.24 AM IST

GAYA: Contrary to expectations of heavy voter turnout on account of the much-trumpeted 'Modi wave' and EC drive for voter awareness and apprehensions of large-scale Maoist violence, polling in Gaya district ended on a somewhat dull note with average voter turnout estimated to be only marginally above the 50% mark. Nearly half of the about 15 lakh voters of Gaya parliamentary constituency did not vote. No major incident of violence was reported from anywhere in the district.

But for the alertness of the cops and intensive demining operation in the red zone, several lives would have been lost as the cops detected more than a dozen landmines, with some weighing as much as 40kg. After cordoning off the area, CRPF personnel destroyed the landmines.

According to Gaya SSP Nishant Tiwari, no less than 14 landmines were destroyed through controlled explosion. Giving details, CRPF DIG Chiranjeev Prasad said eight of the landmines were very heavy. According to him, one bomb planted near village Bhalwar under Banke Bazar police station area weighed 40kg. The landmine was apparently planted to blow up heavy vehicles, he said. Another landmine destroyed in Singhur village under Banke Bazar PS weighed 30 kg, said Prasad.

Justifying the 'destruction' strategy to tackle the IEDs instead of the conventional neutralization/defusion technique, Prasad Kumar said that defusion needed greater skill and was a time-taking process. Enough precaution was taken during the destruction of the IEDs.

Polling at Rahimbigha booth no 180 of the Wazirganj assembly segment had to be suspended as villagers levelled charges of partisan behaviour against the members of the polling party. A minor group clash took place under the Belaganj police station area. Generally speaking, the poll process was conducted in a free and fair manner.

Polling was more dull in the Imamganj and Gurua assembly segments of Aurangabad parliamentary constituency. The maximum number of IEDs was recovered in this area and the low voter turnout in Imamganj is being attributed to the threat perception and poll boycott call given by the Maoists.

As many as 136 of the 1,635 polling stations of Gaya parliamentary constituency were notified as 'extremely' Maoist affected, while another 446 polling stations fell in the Red affected category and 249 polling stations were categorized as 'super sensitive' on account of their past history.

Sitting MP and BJP candidate Hari Manjhi is locked in a triangular contest with his RJD rival Ramji Manjhi and JD (U) nominee Jitan Ram Manjhi in Gaya. Political parties, by and large, expressed satisfaction over the conduct of polls.