Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Vigil on foot in red dens

Dhanbad, April 21: The central paramilitary forces on election duty would have to walk several kilometres in rebel stronghold areas on Thursday to avoid being soft targets of Maoist landmines.

Less than a week ago, at least nine BSF jawans were killed during the first phase of the Lok Sabha poll in Latehar on April 16.

Deputy commissioner-cum-returning officer of Dhanbad Ajay Kumar Singh said besides regular forces, an adequate number of central paramilitary forces would be pressed into service at Naxalite zones. “The security personnel have been instructed to avoid travelling in vehicles in Maoist-hit areas. Instead, they have been asked to walk to avert landmines,” said Singh.

He added that there was a contingency plan to carry out aerial surveillance in Naxalite hotbeds if the need arose.

With just two days to go for the second and last phase of elections in the state, the district administration is gearing up to conduct peaceful polls in Dhanbad Lok Sabha constituency.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made in the district that has 2,009 polling booths spread across six Assembly constituencies — Sindri, Nirsa, Dhanbad, Jharia, Tundi and Baghmara.

Security has also been stepped up at Naxalite-affected Tundi and Topchanchi areas, where the central parliamentary forces would be deputed. Singh said that 108 polling booths had been identified as highly sensitive, while 101 were sensitive. Ninety-one booths have been declared as critical.

Singh said a total of 229 micro-observers and 247 sectoral officers would be deployed across the district.

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