Low voter turnout registered in most Maoist-affected areas
The ST reserved assembly constituencies— Paderu and Araku Valley segments, mostly populated by tribal communities and including Maoist-affected areas in Visakhapatnam Agency registered a voter turnout lower than the turnout in 2014 elections.
The Araku Valley and Paderu assembly segments reported around 54% and 55% turnout respectively this time. This was a significant drop from the 2014 elections when the voter turnout was 70.12% in Araku Valley and 59.8% in Paderu.
Moreover, many people who did make it to the polling booths couldn’t exercise their franchise as the electronic voting machines (EVMs) did not function for around two hours in various polling stations in these two segments. Further, heavy rains at some places on Thursday also affected voter turnout.
The Election Commission has restricted poll timings from 07:00 am to 04:00 pm in the ST reserved assembly segments owing to the sensitive nature of the area.
Sources said that no one turned out at the polling booth at Kosaputtu village under Munchingiputtu mandal in Paderu assembly segment in Visakhapatnam Agency on Thursday. The booth was shifted to Malipuram village recently for the convenience and security of election officials as it was Maoist-dominated area. Though the officials announced the change of booth, there were no takers.
The polling happened in an atmosphere of imminent violence in the Maoist affected areas. The Visakhapatnam Rural police unearthed three improvised explosive devices (IEDs), reportedly planted by Maoists, targeting security forces in the forest region near Seekupanasa under Pedabayalu mandal in Visakhapatnam Agency on Thursday. Visakhapatanam Rural police chief Babujee Attada said that the IEDs were remote operated and each explosive weighed around 5kgs.
The IEDs were found in the forest regions bordering Cheekupanasa, Injari, Kondru and other surrounding villages. Security forces reached the spot during a combing operation and detected and defused the IEDs.
There were no reports of Maoists’ violence anywhere in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakualm districts… Due to technical glitches in EVMs, the polling process in around 100 polling stations under Araku Valley segment continued till 09:00 pm