Chhattisgarh Assembly polls: lakh security officers deployed for the first phase of the vote

Nearly a lakh security officer was deployed Monday in the districts affected by the disaster in Naxal, in the first phase, in the Chhattisgarh region, under the threat of the Maoists who called for a boycott of the elections.

On the eve of the poll, a Border Security Force (BSF) sub-inspector was killed when Naxals blew up an improvised explosive device in Kanker district, while a Maoist was shot dead. during a meeting in Bijapur district.

The vote will be held Monday on 18 seats in eight districts of the state affected by Naxal.

Naxal groups have called for boycotts of the election and have executed more than half a dozen attacks in the past 15 days. Three of them killed 13 people, including a cameraman from Doordarshan, who was covering the election campaign.

Accompaniment in polling stations

According to the police, escorting polling stations to their destination and bringing them back after the elections would cause them problems in the Naxal home.

"About a lakh security personnel, including a central paramilitary force, was deployed to ensure a peaceful poll in the first phase," said Chhattisgarh's chief executive officer (anti-Naxal operations), said M Awasthi PTI.

All countermeasures were taken to thwart Maoist attempts to disrupt the electoral process, he said.

Massive security measures

A total of 650 companies (approximately 65,000 security guards), including paramilitary forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and other state forces, were sent by the center for the polls, he said.

These units are separated from paramilitary personnel and 200 state-force companies already engaged in anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh, said Awasthi.

He added that about 650 polling stations had been transported by helicopter on Saturday to remote areas, while other teams were sent by road Sunday.

The helicopters of the Indian Air Force and the BSF have been commissioned for this purpose, he said.

"The challenge is to escort all polling stations safely to their destination in the areas affected by Naxal, then to hold polls and bring them back safely," Awasthi said.

He added that Naxals had planned to introduce booby traps to target security men. "Therefore, a hawk eye was observed on the roads in such areas," said the official.

Forces of other states

Awasthi stated that forces arriving from other states would have been asked not to use a road unless it had been disinfected by "road-opening organizers" or subjected to an exercise. demining to detect and clean up trapped vehicles.

The security men were also asked to avoid patrolling on foot, as the Naxals were known to place iron spikes for the purpose of inflicting injuries, he said.

They were also urged to be more cautious and clean up booths and other premises in sensitive areas, he said.

In the last 10 days, more than 300 IEDs have been recovered in the Bastar area and Rajnandgaon district by security forces, he added.

Polling stations have been relocated

Another state police official said nearly 198 polling stations had been displaced in the eight districts going to the polls, given the Maoist threat and the convenience of the residents.

The highest number of 76 polls was moved to Bijapur, followed by Sukma-40, Kanker-25, Dantewada-21, Narayanpur-18, Rajnandgaon-12, Kondagaon-four and Bastar-two, the official said. covered by anonymity.

Drones have been deployed in sensitive areas to track Naxals' movements as they could target election personnel en route to the voting booths, he said.

Police were urged to maintain a strict vigil at the borders with Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Early start, early end

Due to Naxal's threat, elections in 10 constituencies – Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta – will start at 7 am and end at 3 pm

In the remaining eight seats, Khairgarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot, voting will take place from 8 am to 5 pm

On November 8, four civilians and an ICFTU lawyer were killed when Naxals detonated a bus with a booby-trapped machine in Dantewada district.

Before that, on October 30, three police officers and a cameraman of the national broadcaster Doordarshan had been killed during a Maoist attack in the Aranpur district of Dantewada.

On October 27, four members of the CRPF were killed and two others wounded after the Maoists blew up their armored bullet-proof vehicle in the Bijapur district.