The polling party for the first phase of assembly election that landed in Chhattisgarh ‘by mistake’ on Thursday, November 28, 2019.(HT Photo)
The polling party for the first phase of assembly election that landed in Chhattisgarh ‘by mistake’ on Thursday, November 28, 2019.(HT Photo)

Jharkhand Assembly Election 2019: First phase of polling today, IAF chopper drops polling personnel in Chhattisgarh

Members of eight polling parties had taken off from a helipad at the district headquarters in Latehar for Chatakapur in Mahuadand in Jharkhand’s Latehar district but they found themselves dropped at Sattipara field in Pratappur Bhainsamunda area of Surajpur district in Chhattisgarh.
By Vishal Sharma | Hindustan Times, Latehar
UPDATED ON NOV 30, 2019 08:21 AM IST

An Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper “mistakenly” dropped a team of polling personnel from Jharkhand on duty for the first phase of assembly elections on November 30 in the neighbouring state Chhattisgarh on Thursday.

Members of eight polling parties had taken off from a helipad at the district headquarters in Latehar for Chatakapur in Mahuadand in Jharkhand’s Latehar district but they found themselves dropped at Sattipara field in Pratappur Bhainsamunda area of Surajpur district in Chhattisgarh.

The Latehar district administration had despatched 18 members of nine polling parties for Chatakpur cluster centre in Manika assembly constituency, which is among the 13 assembly constituencies in Latehar, Palamu, Garhwa, Chatra, Lohardaga and Gumla districts where voting is scheduled to take place on November 30.

The polling personnel included nine presiding officers and nine first polling officers for nine polling stations in the area. Manika constituency had a total of 321 polling stations.

Upon realising about the wrong landing, the polling personnel informed the Latehar deputy commissioner (DC) and district election officer (DEO) Zeeshan Qmar, who alerted his Chhattisgarh counterpart Dipak Soni.

Soon, a team of officials from Chhattisgarh reached the site of landing and provided security cover to the 18-member polling party. Later, another IAF helicopter was sent from Latehar in Jharkhand to lift the stranded polling personnel from Chhattisgarh and drop them at their original destination in Jharkhand.

The Latehar DC later said, “The chopper lost its way and dropped the polling personnel in adjoining Chhattisgarh. The pilot had picked the details of a wrong location. They are all safe and have been brought back to Chatakpur.”

Raees Ahmad, one of the polling personnel, said, “The pilot of the IAF chopper asked us to alight in a field saying the engine had developed some technical snag. We obeyed and got down. Before we could understand something, the chopper left us and flew back.”

“On realising where we are, we panicked at first but soon villagers reached there and assured us of safety,” said Krishna Ram, another member of polling party.

The district administration had despatched a total of 125 polling parties to cluster centres by three IAF choppers two days ahead of the election.

A total of 83 parties were air dropped in Mahuadand block, 28 in Garu and another 14 in Barwadih block of the Manika assembly constituency.

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