About 50 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise till 3 PM in four Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand where Maoists exploded a series of landmines before voting began.
Polling was on in Palamau (SC), Chatra, Koderma and Lohardaga (rain) seats. Hours before polling, Maoists exploded a series of landmines near a police picket in Latehar under Chatra constituency and a brief gunbattle followed, but there was no casualty, Latehar SP Michael Raj said.
A voter stabbed a polling official in Lohardaga while there were minor clashes between rival political parties in Koderma LS seat, police sources said.
In Gumla, which comes under Lohardaga constituency, a constable of the India Reserve Battalion Bikash Tiwari allegedly shot dead three of his colleagues in Gurdari area last night, Superintendent of Police Bhimsen Tuti said.
Later, Tiwari surrendered at the Medininagar police station with his weapon, Palamau SP Y S Ramesh said. Among the 62 candidates, prominent contestants were BJP candidate former Jharkhand police chief Vishnu Dayal Ram, RJD's Manoj Kumar and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha's Ghuran Ram.
Trinamool Congress was making its debut with former Maoist Baitha contesting as its nominee from the Palamau seat where the Congress had won six times. Other candidates were former union minister and Congress candidate Rameshwar Oraon, sitting BJP MP Sudarshan Bhagat, BJP's state unit chief Ravindra Kumar Ray and former Congress MP Tilakdhari Singh.
According to Election Commission sources, there were 1,388 micro observers, video recording at 1,193 booths, webcasting facility at 271 booths, 35,425 poll officials and staff were deployed, of whom 264 were airdropped.
The second phase election in Jharkhand was scheduled on April 17 in Hazariabagh, Giridih, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Singhbhum (rain) and Khunti (rain). Polling in Hazaribagh was originally slated for today but was shifted to April 17 by the Election Commission.
Hazaribagh is celebrating Ram Navami festival today.