Sporadic incidents of violence mars first phase UP panchayat polls

Around 25 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 1130 hours in Uttar Pradesh's first phase of Kshetra and district Panchayat polls today that were marred by sporadic incidents of violence. Reports received at the police headquarters here said around four people were injured in clashes in Pratapgarg, Rae Bareli, Etah and Mainpuri districts.

A polling official also died in Faizabad due to heart attack. Around 25 per cent of voters have exercised their franchise by 1130 hours, State Election Commissioner (SEC) S K Agarwal said. Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the crucial first phase polling in 73 districts of the state which started at 0700 hrs this morning and will end at 1700 hrs.

The counting will be done on November 1 after completion of all the four phases. More than 3 lakh security personnel have been deployed for holding free and fair polls. The security forces included 81,068 personnel of district civil police, 4,675 inter district civil police personnel, 36,741 police forces personnel from training centers, 93,000 homeguards and 1,05,289 village 'chowkidars' to ensure peaceful and smooth conduct of polls.

Besides these, 139 companies of the PAC would also be deployed for the polls. Videography will be conducted in super sensitive booths while all security measures would be in place to enable the voters to cast their votes without any fear, he said. In the first phase, around 2.93 crore electorate are expected to exercise their franchise at 46,584 booths to elect 20,022 kshetra panchayat members and 921 district panchayat members of 218 blocks in the state.

Barring some districts like Gautam Buddha Nagar and Agra, polling would be held in rest of the districts. Official sources said around 1.22 lakh candidates are in the fray for the 849 district panchayat posts in 218 blocks. In Kshetra panchayat, around 1,07,364 candidates would be trying their luck for 20,022 posts. The notification for the second phase of polling on October 13 was issued on October 1, for third phase, the notification was issued on October 6 and polling will be held on October 17 and for the fourth and last phase, the notification will be issued today and polling would be held on October 29.

The polling for the post of village pradhan would be held later after completion of the Kshetra and district panchayat polls in November-December. The polling in Gautam Buddha Nagar (GBN) district has been postponed due to some legal issues as per the UP Industrial Area Development Act and the elections would be held there after a fresh delimitation. The elections in Agra would be held on October 11, October 15 and October 18 for the first three phases. Altogether 77,576 members of the kshetra panchayat and 3,112 members of the district panchayats would be elected in the polls.

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