Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Ex-Naxals to protect ballot boxes from former comrades

Police have roped in surrendered Naxals to protect ballot boxes from their former comrades. They will perform sentry duty with regular police personnel at counting centres for the zilla parishad elections. It is in view of the threat from the Maoists and smaller Naxal groups that police have sought the help of the former Naxals. “They know the strategies of their former comrades and this will help us to foil moves to disrupt the counting process,” said a police officer. Sources said that police officers used some cajoling to persuade ex-Naxals to don the role of sentries. They were willing to do their mite to ensure the completion of the poll peacefully, but also wanted payment in return. Among the former Naxals, only top leaders who came out are leading good lives. Most others have to scrounge around to make a living.

Police ensured peaceful polling in the district despite the Maoist call for a boycott of the ‘farcical exercise.’ There was not much response to the Maoist boycott call in most mandals. Interestingly, North Telangana Special Zonal Committee chief Jampanna’s mother Yashodamma too cast her vote in Thorrur mandal. Polling was also peaceful in Velishala, the village from where several senior Maoist leaders hail. Meanwhile, the State Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for counting of votes for ZPTCs and MPTCs on July 4. Counting will be taken up at 8 am and the first result is expected to be out by around 2.30 pm. As many as 493 counting centres have been set up in 22 districts. State Election Commission secretary G.N. Rao said that ballots from a territorial constituency would be mixed before counting. Counting of votes will go on in north Coastal Andhra too despite floods. The SEC disclosed that the average voting percentage in 22 districts in this poll was 72.17 as against 71.89 per cent in 2001. Khammam recorded the highest polling percentage with 78.56. Election results are not likely to come out fast this time since conventional ballot papers were used instead of voting machines. The SEC will update the results on its website: www.apsec.gov.in.

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