Air surveillance of poll booths in Jharkhand Maoist strongholds

April 14th, 2009 - 2:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Ranchi, April 14 (IANS) Security personnel will carry out continuous aerial monitoring of all voting booths in the six Lok Sabha constituencies of Jharkhand that will go to the polls Thursday since these areas are considered Maoist strongholds, officials said here Tuesday.
“The first phase of elections will be conducted under air surveillance. Five air force helicopters will be used to keep vigil on the booths,” police spokesperson S.N. Pradhan told IANS.

“Pre-poll monitoring from helicopters has already started,” he added.

The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has called for boycott of the polls and warned people of dire consequences if they cast their votes.

The rebels made their presence felt Saturday by killing five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel when Congress president Sonia Gandhi was addressing a rally in Khuti district.

Maoists have tried to create panic in the nine districts going to poll Thursday by blasting government buildings, including schools, and setting on fire five offices of different parties and seven campaign vehicles.

“More than 80 percent of the polling booths will be constantly monitored by security forces as they are highly sensitive. But in other booths forces will not be stationed all the time,” said Pradhan.

In all, 85 candidates are in the fray for the six Lok sabha seats. Their fate will be decided by 7,068,696 voters.

To instil confidence among the voters, police and paramilitary forces are conducting regular operations to flush out Maoists.

Official sources said that 25 to 30 operations are being conducted everyday in the state to neutralise the rebels. At some places, security personnel are conducting flag marches.

“The election commission has, for the first time, directed us not to reveal the number of security personnel engaged to ensure peaceful polls. The names of the sensitive and over-sensitive booths can also not be divulged,” said a police official.

During the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, three poll officials were killed in Jharkhand.

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