Bihar to ensure tough action against those intimidating voters

March 28th, 2009 - 9:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, March 28 (IANS) In a bid to ensure free and peaceful Lok Sabha elections in Bihar, the state government has decided to take tough action against those intimidating voters, officials said Saturday.
“Troublemakers, including criminals trying to hinder the election process, would be taught a hard lesson and even the candidates indulging in intimidation of voters would not be spared,” principal secretary (home) Afzal Amanullah said, adding speedy trials will be conducted in cases of voter intimidation.

He warned that the administration will not be afraid to countermand and recommend repolling if there were reports of booth grabbing or rigging on large scale by criminals. Stern action will be taken against those who try to prevent voters from going to polling booths, he added.

Amanullah said all the district magistrates and the superintendents of police (SPs) have been ordered to lodge cases against troublemakers without hesitation.

Sources in police headquarters here said that superintendents of police were issued instructions to prepare a list of troublemakers and book them ahead of the elections.

The state government had begun a special drive against troublemakers early this month soon after a directive of the Election Commission to prepare for incident-free elections in Bihar, notorious for violence, vote-rigging and “capture” of polling booths in the elections.

Also, the Maoists have given a call for boycott of the Lok Sabha elections and hinted at violence during the poll.

In view of the threat, Bihar had sought four Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters from the centre for aerial surveillance during the elections. The state would deploy three choppers for surveillance during the first phase of polls in 13 Lok Sabha seats April 16, while one would be kept on standby.

Bihar police chief D.N. Gautam said that adequate forces would be deployed in the Maoist-affected areas and those bordering Nepal to ensure peaceful elections.

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