Second phase of Indian polls witnesses 66% voter turnout

Millions of Indians cast their ballots in the second phase of general elections for 95 of 543 parliamentary seats on Thursday.

Polling was largely peaceful amid sporadic violence and protests.

Voter turnout was 66% compared with 69.43% for 91 seats in the first round of polls on April 13.

Defying terrorists’ threats, 43.3% of people cast their ballots in Jammu and Kashmir. In Srinagar city, three people were injured when security forces opened fire to disperse protesters.

Although West Bengal recorded the highest voter turnout with 75.27%, violence and proxy voting marred the polling process.

Communist party candidate Mohammad Salim’s car was stoned as he was heading to Patagora polling station in Islampur to cast his vote for Raigunj seat.

Salim said goons backed by Trinamool Congress ruling West Bengal state stopped his vehicle 100 metres away from the polling station. They were trying to intimidate voters. When Salim resisted them, they targeted his car.

An investigative TV journalist showed how, at the behest of the state government, polling officers were allowing proxy voting to prevent Hindu voters from casting their ballots.

Elsewhere in the state, a group of angry voters blocked the highway in Chopra under Darjeeling constituency to protest against denial of their rights to vote. The police used batons and tear gas to disperse them.

In neighbouring Odisha, a polling officer was killed by suspected Maoist rebels before polling opened.

In the central state of Chhattisgarh, security forces raided a Maoist jungle camp and killed two terrorists linked to the deaths of a lawmaker and four security guards in a recent ambush, police said.

In south, Puducherry witnessed 73.3% voter turnout. Although voter turnout was 61.8% and 70% respectively in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, their capitals Bengaluru and Chennai recorded poor turnout.

The third phase of elections will take place on April 23 for 115 seats in 14 states and union territories.