Chhattisgarh elections 2018: Drones, choppers, 1 lakh security men in place for first phase
Nearly one lakh security personnel, drones to watch for Maoists and helicopters to transport polling staff are in place as 18 constituencies in eight Maoist-affected districts vote today in the first phase of the Chhattisgarh assembly elections.
Over 31 lakh voters will decide the fate of 190 candidates including chief minister Raman Singh and two other ministers. Police said that a total of 4336 polling booths have been set up for the first phase and about 75 percent of these polling booths are said to be critical.
In Bastar division, which include seven of the eight districts going to polls in the first phase, there are total 2100 booths in which 59 saw zero percent polling in 2013 assembly elections.
An additional 65,000 security personnel, drones and helicopters for transporting poll staff and personnel to ensure violence-free polling have been deployed in the state, where three big incidents of Maoist violence have been reported in worst-affected districts – Sukma, Dantewada and Bijapur in last few days.
On Thursday, the Maoists blew up a bus with an IED in Dantewada, killing four civilians and a Central Industrial Security Force trooper. On October 30, three policemen and Doordarshan cameraperson Achyutanand Sahu were killed in a Maoist attack in Dantewada. Three days before that, four CRPF personnel were killed and two injured when the rebels blew up a bullet-proof bunker vehicle in Bijapur.
However, the number of Maoist attacks reported this election is less than in 2013 when 35 incidents were reported, leaving three security men and a civilian dead.
“We are using all methods to ensure that polling takes place in affected areas,” said special director general of police, anti-Naxal operations, DM Awasthi.
“We have got 650 companies for the first time for elections in the state,” he added.
Awasthi denied that the boycott by the Maoists will affect polling. “We have managed to restrain them to their core area even after their several attempts. It is bit early to say anything but we have dominated the Maoists till now in this election,” he told Hindustan Times
To send the EVM and polling parties, helicopters will be pressed into service for around 210 polling booths, which are highly sensitive, he said.
Out of the 18 constituencies, voting 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 - Khairgarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot, the voting will take place between 8 am and 5 pm.