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Polling Cancelled as One Dies After Shots Fired in Indian State of Jharkhand

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New Delhi (Sputnik): Out of a total of 6,066 polling stations, 949 have been declared "critical" and 762 "sensitive" in areas known to be affected by insurgents. Over 100 polling stations have been relocated for security reasons and voters are being provided with free transport to exercise their franchise.

An instance of firing reported on Saturday in the Gumla district of India's poll-bound state of Jharkhand has led to voting being cancelled in the area to allow security personnel to get the situation under control.

The shooting incident took place during the second phase of polling in Jharkhand. One person was killed and two others were injured when paramilitary Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel had to open fire on a group of men trying to snatch their weapons in the Sisai constituency of Gumla district.

Voting is taking place in 20 constituencies to elect 81 members to the state's legislature. Voting in 18 of the 20 constituencies will end at 3 p.m. local time, while voting in the two remaining constituencies - Jamshedpur (East) and Jamshedpur (West) - will end at 5 p.m. local time, the Election Commission of India said in a statement today.

The injured have been admitted to a hospital and are out of danger, a senior police officer said.

Meanwhile, the average voter turnout in various assembly constituencies was pegged at around 35 percent at noon.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which currently leads the government in Jharkhand, has pulled out all the stops to secure a win in these elections to ensure a second consecutive term in office. Raghubar Das, the state’s chief, cast his vote in the Bhalubasa area of Jamshedpur (East) on Saturday morning.

The ruling BJP is contesting in all twenty constituencies, while the opposition Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM)-Congress combined opposition is contesting in 14 and six seats respectively.

Polling was also delayed in the Jamshedpur (East) assembly constituency after several electronic voting machines allegedly malfunctioned. There were also reports of some polling booths being without electricity.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to social media this morning to urge voters to come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.

Over 4.8 million eligible voters will be casting their votes today. Of these, over 2.3 million are women. They will decide the fate of 260 candidates, including 29 women and 73 independents, Vinay Kumar Choubey, the Chief Electoral Officer of Jharkhand, said and added that several of these constituencies are Naxal-affected.

According to police sources, over 42,000 security personnel have been deployed to the 20 constituencies spread across seven districts of the state.

In the first phase of elections held in Jharkhand on 30 November, voting took place in 13 assembly constituencies to decide the political fate of 189 candidates, including 15 women. In that phase, a few incidents of violence were also reported.

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