The first phase of Lok Sabha polls in four parliamentary constituencies of Bihar on April 11 will be an acid test for the state police administration as all four fall under Maoist-affected districts of Aurangabad, Gaya, Jamui and Nawada.
In view of the sensitivity and chances of ultras trying to disturb polls, H R Srinivasan the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Bihar, has called a high-level meeting to review the situation. Apart from the police brass, district magistrates and SPs of all the four districts will also attend the meeting to be held at Gaya on Friday.
A senior officer said that though Maoist activity had been on the wane in the recent years, the authorities don’t want to take any chances, keeping in view the past record.
“Land mines are biggest challenge in Maoist areas, as they cause heavy damage and are difficult to detect. The focus is to ensure free and fair polls and safe movement of the central armed police forces (CAPF). In Bihar, 16 districts are Maoist affected, but Aurangabad and Gaya remain the most vulnerable,” he said.
Sources said that IG (Patna zone) had sought from the police headquarters satellite phones, additional CAPF and deep search metal detectors to search for landmines.
Another challenge for Bihar is that elections in Jharkhand are not coinciding with Bihar. In Jharkhand, the four-phase elections begin on April 29. A series of meetings between senior police officials of Bihar and Jharkhand has already been held in past few weeks to work in proper coordination during the polls.
In the first phase, three constituencies fall in the Magadh range while Jamui falls in Munger range, all bordering Jharkhand.
In the past, even political leaders have found it difficult to carry out their campaign in these areas with the Maoists routinely issuing threats and giving a call to boycott the election process. They are known to ruthlessly enforce their diktats in the rural areas with many booths having the ignominious record of zero polling.
“The biggest worry for the administration is to provide security to candidates and ensure that people come out in large numbers on the voting day. While security at polling booths is usually adequate, the route that voters undertake is highly vulnerable. Polling parties, too, are soft targets,” said another officer.
Therefore, co-ordination among police officials and strategic deployment of CAPF, no matter how much Bihar gets against its demand for 180 companies, would be a big task.
An IG-rank police officer, involved in the force deployment strategy, said that adequate strength of SAP, STF, CRPF and CoBRA jawans had already been deployed in Gaya and Aurangabad districts. “Barachatti, Amas, Dumaria, Immamganj, Bankebazar, Sherghatti, Dobhi, Madanpur, Kutumba, Deo and Lemua are known to be worst Maoists affected areas in Gaya and Aurangabad. Vulnerable pockets will get adequate focus,” he said.
First phase of polls
Left-wing ultras, silent of late, still hold sway in four constituencies that go to polls on April 11
The 4 seats: Aurangabad, Gaya, Jamui and Nawada
Landmines are the biggest challenge, difficult to detect and capable of causing heavy damage
Areas worst hit: Barachatti, Amas, Dumaria, Immamganj, Bankebazar, Sherghatti, Dobhi, Madanpur, Kutumba, Deo and Lemua
180 companies of central forces sought by Bihar
Mar 15, 2019 16:04 IST
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