Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Choppers for vigil in naxalite-hit areas

Sujay Mehdudia

RANCHI: Even as campaigning for the second phase of polling to eight Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand came to a close on Tuesday, the administration has decided to use choppers for vigil in naxalite-affected areas and to deploy additional security personnel for election duty on April 23.

Caught on the wrong foot in the first phase that saw large-scale violence and casualties, the security agencies are not taking any chances. The State government will get four choppers from the Indian Air Force and one from the Border Security Force for surveillance. Focus is on Giridih and Singhbhum parliamentary constituencies and partly on areas falling under Dhanbad and Jamshedpur constituencies which are considered naxalite strongholds. The police will use choppers for airlifting troops as well as poll officials.

Sixty companies of paramilitary forces are being deployed in addition to 27,000 police personnel, home guards and NCC personnel.

All the paramilitary forces and poll staff have been asked to avoid travel by heavy vehicles, including buses, as they are vulnerable to landmine blasts. Anti-landmine vehicles are also being pressed into service to counter the threat of poll boycott and violence by the Communist Party of India (Maoists). The CPI (Maoists) has warned that they would take on the paramilitary forces manning polling booths and centres in various parts of the State.

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