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Violence on polling day in Kashmir, West Bengal, voters turn out in good numbers

May 7 (AZINS) A grenade attack on a polling booth in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, violence in West Bengal and EVM glitches were reported during the fifth phase of Lok Sabha polls Monday across seven states in which voters turned out in considerable numbers till the afternoon.

Political heavyweights Rajnath Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Smriti Irani are in the fray in this phase in which polling is underway in 14 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 12 in Rajasthan, seven seats each in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, five in Bihar and four in Jharkhand.

In Jammu and Kashmir, polling began on a violent note with militants lobbing a grenade towards a polling station in Pulwama district, police said.

A grenade was lobbed towards Rohmoo polling station in Pulwama but there were no reports of any casualties in the blast, a police official said.

Polling is being held in Pulwama and Shopian districts of Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency which also includes Anantnag and Kulgam districts.

There are 18 candidates in the fray for Anantnag constituency including PDP president and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti.

In West Bengal, a scuffle broke out between Barrackpore seat's BJP candidate Arjun Singh and central forces when the former TMC MLA tried to enter a booth following allegations that voters were not being allowed to exercise their franchise there, officials said.

Singh was later seen chasing "fake voters" in Naihati area. "Our agents were not allowed inside booths. People were not allowed to vote properly and I went there to have a look. I have the right to enter booths but police stopped me and hit me," Singh alleged.

Alleging that the police were not doing anything to stop rigging in some booths of Barrackpore seat, Singh demanded that polling be stopped and re-polling ordered.

BJP leaders also demanded re-polling in the seat. Sporadic incidents of violence were also reported in Bangaon, Howrah and Hoogly constituencies, with around 33.47 percent of nearly 1.17 crore voters casting their ballots in the first four hours, officials said.

At a booth in Belmuri in Hooghly seat, BJP candidate Locket Chatterjee was seen threatening a polling officer. She is contesting against TMC's two-term MP Ratna De Nag.

A presiding officer at a booth in Tarakswar was removed after one person, allegedly a TMC leader, was seen casting votes on behalf of others there.

In Uttar Pradesh, over 35 percent turnout was recorded till 1 pm in 14 Lok Sabha seats where Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi are in the fray.

Election officials here said polling was going on smoothly, barring some complaints of EVM malfunctioning.

Union minister and the BJP's Amethi candidate Smriti Irani alleged that Congress president Rahul Gandhi was "ensuring booth capturing" in the constituency. Irani and Gandhi are contesting against each other in the seat.

"Alert @ECISVEEP Congress President @Rahul Gandhi ensuring booth capturing," Irani said on Twitter.

She also tagged a video in which an elderly women is seen alleging that her hand was forcibly put on 'panja' (hand) election symbol of the Congress though she wanted to vote for the 'kamal' (lotus), the BJP's symbol.

There is no written complaint on the matter. Rajasthan recorded a robust voter turnout of 42.7 percent in 12 Lok Sabha seats in the first six hours. The maximum voter turnout of 47.45 percent was recorded in Ganganagar (SC) seat.

Churu, Jaipur, Nagaur, Alwar and Sikar registered a voter turnout of 44.75, 44.47, 43.54, 43.34 and 43.16 percent, respectively.

Besides these six seats, polling is also underway amid tight security in Bikaner, Jhunjhunu, Jaipur rural, Bharatpur, Karauli-Dholpur and Dausa.

Madhya Pradesh saw an average 29.76 percent polling till noon in seven Lok Sabha seats. Polling was underway since 7 am in the seven constituencies - Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Satna, Rewa, Hoshangabad and Betul."Minor issues related to EVMs were reported at some places but they were sorted out," he added.

In Bihar, an estimated 26.19 percent of over 87.66 lakh electorate exercised their franchise till noon. Polling is underway in Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Muzaffarpur, Saran and Hajipur.

According to a senior police officer, one person has been taken into custody in Saran for damaging an EVM. The damaged EVM has been replaced with a fresh one.

Barring a few reports of poll boycott and EVM glitches, voting has largely been peaceful in the five seats.

"The voting process was delayed by around 30 minutes in six polling stations of Saran, two in Madhubani, one each in Sitamarhi and Muzaffarpur constituencies due to technical glitches in the EVMs, but the officials have attended to the issues," he stated.

In Dumri village of Muzaffarpur parliamentary seat, a group of people boycotted polls, citing lack of development. In Jharkhand, an estimated 29.49 percent of the 65.87 lakh electorate cast their votes till 11 am.With this phase, election will be over in 424 seats and polling in the remaining 118 seats will be held on May 12 and 19.

Election to 542 Lok Sabha seats is being conducted in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. Election in Vellore constituency in Tamil Nadu had been cancelled following excess use of money power. Results will be declared on May 23.