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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

No poll fever as candidates steer clear of Red corridor

B Vijay Murty, Hindustan Times  Bengal-Jharkhand border, August 24, 2007
First Published: 03:25 IST(24/8/2007) | Last Updated: 03:32 IST(24/8/2007)

No poll fever in Maoists' Red Corridor

August 4: When BSP candidate Salkhan Murmu drove to the tribal hamlets of Kesarpur and Baguria in Ghatsila assembly constituency, the response he got was lukewarm at best. The locals refused to come before the media.

August 17: Jharkhand Vikas Morcha chief Babulal Marandi embarked on a similar trip to the area but was stopped from entering Baguria by security personnel. He had to make do with a rally with practically no attendance at the nearby Kesarpur Football Maidan.
Welcome to the Maoists’ Red Corridor, where locals have far greater things to worry about than the democratic process, and where even politicians on the campaign trail dare not venture.

Barring Babulal and Salkhan, no other politician has deemed it necessary to meet the people of the 78 panchayats along the border as Maoists have all but taken over this region.

The sensational murder of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP Sunil Mahato by Maoists on March 4 — which necessitated this by-poll — has charged the atmosphere even more.

“Adequate security forces have been deployed across the district. People can vote fearlessly,” says SP Pankaj Darad. But neither the candidates, nor the voters have the courage to challenge the Maoists’ poll ban in their den.

Things weren’t always like this. In the last election, Ghatsila registered 85 per cent polling, thanks to the Nagrik Suraksha Samity, a peoples’ army set up to fight the Maoists. But today, the NSS has faded away and the Maoists have taken over. Naturally, analysts expect very poor polling here.
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