Police propose videotaping voters on Naxal turf
The police in Gondia, one of the worst Naxal-hit districts in Maharashtra, has mooted a proposal to videotape voters instead of putting the traditional indelible ink on the index finger during polling in the district on April 16. Debasish Panigrahi reports.india Updated: Apr 13, 2009 00:43 IST
Perhaps for the first time in the country, the police in Gondia, one of the worst Naxal-hit districts in Maharashtra, has mooted a proposal to videotape voters instead of putting the traditional indelible ink on the index finger during polling in the district on April 16.
This unprecedented alternative was thought of in view of the election boycott call given by Naxal outfits in the district in the northeastern part of the state early this week. The ultras have circulated literature in several remote villages of the district, threatening to eliminate anyone found with ‘vote ink’ on his or her finger.
Gondia superintendent of police (SP) Pradeep Deshpande has told Hindustan Times that the proposal had been made to the district returning officer — the district collector to be particular — in view of the Naxal threat. “We had sent a general proposal for consideration in view of the prevailing situation,” Deshpande said.
He said the proposal was subject to the approval of the Election Commission. “The returning officer is expected to pursue the matter with the EC,” he added.
Deshpande said the request for videotaping the voters was limited to 8-10 “highly sensitive” villages in the district where the Naxal threat was maximum. “The numbers (of polling stations proposed to be videotaped) are very limited while in the rest of the district the traditional method would be adopted,” he said.
The Naxal threat or call to boycott elections is not new to the district. During the last general election too such threats were issued by the ultras. However, this time, the threat is being taken seriously in the backdrop of a series of bloody clashes over the past couple of months in the neighbouring Gadchiroli district.
Additional director general of police, anti-Naxal operations, Pankaj Gupta said he was in agreement with the proposal to videotape voters to protect them. “But the decision rests with the EC,” he said.