Friday, April 03, 2009

Gadchiroli gets Red threat

Jaideep HardikarSaturday, April 4, 2009 1:35 IST Email

Nagpur: An uneasy fortnight begins for the Gadchiroli police and district administration in the run-up to the April 16 polling for general elections, with the rebel Maoists asking villagers to boycott the elections and install their own Jantana Sarkar.

General election 2009"Yes, we have discovered posters in some villages of the district, through which the Naxalite splinters here have asked people to refrain from voting," superintendent of police Rajesh Pradhan said on Wednesday. But that, he said, is not unusual. "It's been their strategy always and despite that the voting percentage in the district remains a healthy around 70% every time."
One poster reads: "Boycott fake Lok Sabha elections and create a people's government: Courtesy Gadchiroli Division Committee, Communist Party of India (Maoist)." Some of the posters ridicule police operations like Sarvodaya and Parakram and condemn police action against the people of few villages.

Amidst heightened Maoist activities over the past few months though, the police and district administration are leaving nothing to chance. Police said Naxals would try best to disrupt the process, but they are prepared to foil their attempts.

"We are prepared for the elections and we'll ensure that the process is peaceful," Pradhan said. The reinforcements of the state and central troops have begun to come ahead of the polling. "We have also demanded three helicopters for aerial patrolling and hopefully we'll get it," he said.

The splinter Maoist groups have given a call for Gadchiroli bandh on April 10 in what the police say could be pressure tactics to disrupt the polling process.

Pradhan says there has been a rise in Naxal activity recently in retaliation to successful police crackdowns in 2008 and surrenders. But, the police have counter-strategies ready, with "naxal-chasing" operations already on for a week now.

Meanwhile, the election commission has reportedly accepted the district administration's demand to curtail polling hours for the stations in the remotest corner of the district. The police and administration had written to the district magistrate to reduce the polling timings by two hours, similar to what the election commission has agreed for the Maoist-infested parts of Orissa.

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