Many of the areas in Chhattisgarh where voting will take place tomorrow in the first of the two-phase assembly election are affected by Maoist violence. Extremely tight security arrangements have been made in these areas.
Paramilitary forces have been carrying out combing operations in Chhattisgarh’s Mohla Manpur district, 150 km from the state capital Raipur.
The forces hope to instil confidence among voters in these Chhattisgarh areas affected by left-wing extremism.
What makes the situation even more challenging is the fact that Maoists have called a boycott of the election. They have warned political parties and their leaders not to come to remote areas.
NDTV travelled to Sarkheda village to check whether the Maoist threat of boycotting the election would work. A BJP leader, Birju Taram, was allegedly killed by Maoists a few days ago.
A villager told NDTV they will participate in the election, though they may not be happy with the administration. The fear of violence doesn’t seem to have deterred the villagers from going to the polling booths.
Some 60,000 security personnel have been deployed for the election in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-affected Bastar region, which has 12 assembly seats.
Over 600 polling booths are in sensitive areas of the Maoist-hit Bastar division. The challenge is big.
Bastar’s Jhiram Ghati is also the site of the bloodiest-ever attack by Maoists on a political convoy. In May 2013, Maoists wiped out the top leadership of the Congress – 29 leaders and their security personnel were killed.
A memorial was built in Jhiram Ghati nearly 10 years later, but the families of those killed by Maoists are still waiting for justice.
Two polling personnel and a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan were injured today in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast triggered by Maoists in in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district.
The incident happened at 4 pm when four polling groups escorted by security personnel were heading to their booths. A joint team of the BSF and the district police had set out escorting the polling teams.
The injured were taken to hospital; their condition is said to be stable. Antagarh is among the 20 constituencies which will vote tomorrow.