Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Aerial vigil of booths to curb Maoist violence in Bihar

Patna (IANS): Two Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters will monitor poll booths in areas hit by Maoist insurgency to counter the rebels who have called for boycott of the Lok Sabha elections, police said Tuesday.

"Two helicopters - MI8 and Chetak - are ready for aerial patrolling and operations against Maoists during the first phase of the polls (Thursday)," Inspector General of Police (Operations) S.K. Bhardawaj told IANS.

Bhardawaj will lead the Special Task Force (STF) team that will conduct aerial surveillance.

The government will also deploy central paramilitary forces in large numbers in sensitive regions.

Voters in 13 parliamentary constituencies will cast their ballot in the first phase of polls Thursday. These include the Magadh division comprising Gaya, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal, Nawada and Sasaram; Tirhut division made up of Saran, Siwan, Gopalganj and Maharajganj; as well as Ara district.

The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has a strong presence in the rural areas of these seats.

In the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, 74 people were killed in the state. About 20 people were killed in the 2004 general elections and the toll was a staggering 158 during the 2001 panchayat elections.

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