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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Maoist dens fortified for polling today in Bihar’s Gaya, Aurangabad

Security forces are most concerned about use of IEDs by Maoists, as poorly built roads make their detection difficult. Ever since the date of the Lok Sabha elections were announced on March 10, Maoists have been vocal about their displeasure and have given calls for poll boycott across the state

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 11, 2019 08:17 IST
Avinash Kumar
Avinash Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar's maoist den,Maoist dens of Bihar,polling in Bihar
Security officials carry EVMs in Jamui on Wednesday.(ANI)

Over 41,000 security personnel have been deployed in the state for the first phase of polling in the Lok Sabha elections on April 11, in the Maoist affected constituencies of Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada and Jamui . Of the total number of security personnel deployed, 17,000 belong to the central armed police forces (CAPF) and the rest are from Bihar police and Bihar military police.

Ever since the date of the Lok Sabha elections were announced on March 10, Maoists have been vocal about their displeasure and have given calls for poll boycott across the state. Maoist posters have surfaced in several districts threatening to disrupt the electoral process.

Three helicopters, including one MI-17 and two Chetaks, have been requisitioned to provide air cover and area dominance support to the security forces on the day of polling. In Aurangabad, two helipads have been constructed - one in the district headquarters and another in a remote area to ensure that helicopters find it easy to operate in and around the region.

“Our main focus is to ensure smooth conduct of polls and safety of voters, as well as polling personnel. Security personnel are patrolling the roads everywhere as vehicles carrying polling officials and election equipment will pass through those roads for their destinations,” said a senior police official.

A CRPF official said routine de-mining exercises by joint teams of district police and CAPF have been carried out for the last few days in all four constituencies.

“Several security teams and sniffer dogs have been pressed into the de-mining process. Security forces have been deployed in large numbers, as Maoists might try new ways of disrupting polls in their areas of influence, though their influence has diminished significantly in the last few years,” said a senior official.

Patna zone has directed the station house officers (SHOs) of Magadh range to get phone numbers of some people living around the polling booths, so that tabs can be kept on the booths regularly and suspicious activities can be flagged.

Earlier policemen were supposed to personally visit the booths to confirm the arrival of polling personnel. “The new arrangement will be safe and also save time, as mobile phones have reached all corners,” said the official.

The CRPF is considering improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as the biggest threat, especially during the election season when the movement of forces goes up. In the past, landmine blasts proved to be the main threat to the forces. Poor condition of roads in Maoist affected areas has made it difficult for security forces to detect IEDs.

“The Maoists have made their stand clear regarding their plans to disrupt elections. We are trying to pre-empt it by a massive de-mining exercise in areas south of grand trunk road (NH-2). Though Maoists are known to plant landmines on metalled roads as well, it is the non-metalled or kuchcha roads which give ample scope of hiding explosives beneath the surface, thereby making it difficult for the CAPF to detect them,” said the CRPF official.

As per MHA records, a total of 109 Maoist related incidents of violence were reported in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 125 such incidents were reported, resulting in 24 deaths.

First Published: Apr 11, 2019 08:17 IST