As voting was underway in 18 Assembly constituencies in the first phase of the Chhattisgarh elections on Monday, an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated by Maoists in Dantewada district.
An IED blast was triggered by Maoists early morning in Dantewada. No injury or loss of life has been reported.
"The explosion took place around 5.30 am on Tumakpal-Nayanar road when a team of security men was escorting polling personnel to their booth," a senior police official said.
"No harm was caused to the security and polling personnel in the explosion. The polling party safely reached the Nayanar polling booth in Katekalyan area," he added.
A thick security blanket, comprising over 1.25 lakh police and paramilitary personnel, was thrown across the 18 constituencies as they fall under the Naxal-hit areas of Bastar, Kanker, Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon districts.
Polling in 10 constituencies -- Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta -- started at 7 am and would conclude at 3 pm, an election official said.
In the other eight constituencies -- Khairgarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot -- voting began at 8 am and would end at 5 pm, he said.
Among the prominent candidates in the first phase were Chief Minister Raman Singh, ministers Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur) and Mahesh Gagda (Bijpaur) and Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Kanker Lok Sabha seat MP Vikram Usendi (Antagarh).
Nine sitting Congress MLAs -- Manoj Singh Mandavi (Bhanupratappur), Mohan Lal Markam (Kondagaon), Lakheshwar Baghel (Bastar), Deepak Kumar Baij (Chitrakot), Devati Karma (Dantewada), Kawasi Lakhma (Konta), Girwar Janghel (Khairagarh), Santram Netam (Keshkal) and Daleshwar Sahu (Dongargaon) -- were also in the fray.
Of the 18 seats going to polling in the first phase, 12 are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs) while one is for Scheduled Caste (SC) category.
Earlier on November 11, a Border Security Force (BSF) personnel was killed in an IED blast in Kanker's Koyalibeda area of Chhattisgarh.
Keeping in view the growing terror of Maoism in Chhattisgarh, tight security arrangements have been made in several sensitive areas of the state to ensure peaceful elections.
A total of 190 candidates are in the fray in the 18 constituencies spread over eight districts where Maoists have been active for over a quarter century.
Earlier, a polling official said that, in the light of elections, Maoists are trying to create an atmosphere of fear among the voters.
The remaining 72 constituencies for the second phase of Chhattisgarh elecetion will go to polls on November 20 and the votes will be counted on December 11 along with the Assembly polls of Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Rajasthan.
(With Agency Inputs)