65,000 Troops For First Phase Of Chhattisgarh Polls Amid Maoist Threat

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Troops from various central and state forces will be deployed in Maoist-hit Chhattisgarh ahead of polls.

New Delhi:

About 65,000 troops from various central and state police forces will be deployed for the first-phase of the assembly polls in Maoist-hit Chhattisgarh, officials said today.

Elections to the 90-member Chhattisgarh assembly will be held in two phases on November 12 and November 20.

In two recent Maoist attacks in Bijapur and Sukma districts, nine security personnel and public broadcaster DD News cameraman were killed, prompting security officials to direct personnel to "maintain a very high state of alert till the polls process is completed".

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The officials said contingents from central forces such as the CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB, CISF and RPF, and a few from state police forces have reached capital Raipur. These will be in position at their designated locations and polling booths by this week, they said.

"About 650 companies of central and state police forces will be deployed for the first phase of polls in the state.The (personnel of) Chhattisgarh Police is in addition to this," a senior official said.

There are about 100 personnel in a state police or Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) company.

Considering the threat perception in 18 constituencies that go to polls in the first phase, the number of on-ground security personnel has been kept high, the officials said.

The assembly segments are spread in eight Maoist-affected districts of Bastar, Kanker, Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon, they said.

Also, a number of new polling booths are being opened this time so it was required to have more Central Armed police Forces (CAPFs) units for ensuring safe polls during the first phase of the Chhattisgarh elections.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) units that are already deployed in the Bastar area for regular anti-Maoist operations will add to the strength of these forces, the officials said.

The Bijapur and Sukma Maoist attacks, prompted security officials to state that they are "not taking any chances and the security units have been asked to maintain a very high state of alert till the polls process is completed."

For the forces being sent to the central Indian state, the Union Home Ministry had issued specific directions that they should "carry their own night vision devices, communication equipment like satellite phones, bullet proof jackets, GPS systems and armoured vehicles as far as possible for safety and other operational requirements" in view of the Maoist threat.

The second phase of polls for remaining 72 constituencies in the state will be held on November 20.

The counting of votes is slated for December 11.

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