1st phase of local elections in India's Jharkhand begins amid tight security

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-30 15:07:07|Editor: xuxin
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NEW DELHI, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- The first phase of local elections in India's eastern state of Jharkhand began Saturday morning amid tight security and adequate arrangements, officials said.

Jharkhand's polling, starting from 7:00 a.m. (local time) until 3:00 p.m (local time), spread over six districts in the 13 constituencies.

"The first phase of Jharkhand Assembly elections is underway peacefully in 13 constituencies spread over six districts -- Chatra, Palamu, Gumla, Garhwa, Latehar and Lohardagga," an official said.

"Voters including women are in queues outside the designated polling stations to exercise their right of franchise."

Reports said 21.4 percent of voter turnout was recorded until 11:00 a.m. (local time).

According to the officials, most of the constituencies where polling is being held are in Naxal dominated areas.

Authorities have sealed the borders of neighbouring Odisha, Chattishgarh, Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh to stop infiltration.

"Patrolling has been intensified and combing operation is on to nab anti-social element trying to disrupt polling," the official said.

According to state-run broadcaster All India Radio (AIR), four helicopters have been pressed into service for air patrolling, while as one has been stationed at Ranchi airport for any emergency.

As per India's election commission, voting in Jharkhand would be completed in five phases until Dec. 20.

The ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), which is seeking a second term under the leadership of incumbent Chief Minister Raghubar Das, is facing a tough challenge from the opposition alliance of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the Congress party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).