Monday, April 20, 2009

Naxal threat looms large in second phase too

19 Apr 2009, 1736 hrs IST, Sanjeev Kumar Verma, TNN

PATNA: The first phase of the Lok Sabha elections in the 13 out of the total 40 seats in Bihar was by and large peaceful except for the Gaya
incident where two security personnel were killed in a Naxal attack. Incidentally, a majority of Naxal-affected areas were covered in this phase.

However, those responsible for conducting the elections are still keeping their fingers crossed. For, the Naxal threat is still looming large in some areas even in the second phase of the elections. The magnitude of the threat can be gauged from the fact that out of the 13 constituencies, which would go to polls in this phase on April 23, there are at least seven constituencies -- Valmikinagar, Paschim Champaran, Purvi Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur and Vaishali -- parts of which have been hit by Maoist violence.

And ultra-Left activists are not sitting idle with the election day just four days away. According to sources, Maoists have embarked on a poll boycott campaign in Dhaka, Chiraiya and Madhuban assembly segments of Sheohar parliamentary constituency. In Madhuban, they pasted poll boycott posters on a bank building warning of dire consequences to the voters who ignore the call. Similar reports have come from Riga and Belsand areas.

Bosses at the police headquarters are already on the job to thwart any possible attack by Maoists. "Buildings which fall in the Naxal-infested areas and where polling booths have been set up have already been identified," ADG (headquarters) Neelmani told TOI on Sunday, adding, "with the number of such buildings being about one third of what it was in the first phase polls, the administration would be more comfortable in terms of providing security cover to the buildings."

All such buildings would be manned either by personnel of central para-military forces (CPMF) or by regular police forces. "This would be in addition to the intensive patrolling of the whole area on the polling day," Neelmani said.

Two MI8 helicopters of the Indian Air Force would also be used for surveillance as well as for sending reinforcements in cases of emergency. Members of the special task force, who have received commando training, would be there in these choppers and would be sent to places where necessary.

Incidentally, the state police has also chalked out a special plan to provide security cover to the locals who may become victims of Naxal wrath after the polls for not obeying Naxal's diktat of boycott.

"Sufficient number of armed police personnel would be deputed at strategic places to thwart any such threat to the locals," Neelmani said and added that similar deployments have already been made in Naxal-affected areas where the polling took place in the first phase on April 16.

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