Poll panel monitors situation in Maoist-affected areas

April 15th, 2009 - 7:19 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) The Election Commission Wednesday said it was “constantly monitoring” the situation in Bihar and Jharkhand, where Maoist rebels have struck ahead of the first phase of polling Thursday.
“The Election Commission is taking stock of the situation in the Naxal-affected areas through control rooms established in the state and at national level. The Election Commission is constantly monitoring the situation in the affected areas,” Deputy Election Commissioner R. Balakrishnan told reporters here.

“In some areas, polling locations have been shifted for the voters convenience in these areas,” he added. Polling will take place between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the areas identified as Maoist affected.

Asked if any insurance coverage would be provided for voters living in these areas, Balakrishnan said: “There is no concept of voter insurance. But there is a provision for compensation mechanism for the polling staff (who are government officials), and who are working in these polling stations.”

When queried how many constituencies are affected due to the Maoist violence, he said: “We cannot say that an entire constituency is affected, but some part of the constituency is affected. It is in varying degrees,” Balakrishnan added.

Heavily armed Maoist guerrillas unleashed a wave of violence in Bihar and Jharkhand Wednesday attacking camps of the Border Security Force (BSF) and ambushing a bus in which seven people were killed.

All the attacks took place within a short while of each other, raising fears of violence during the elections.

On Tuesday, Maoist rebels torched the campaign vehicle of Mahabali Singh, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) candidate for Bihar’s Karakat seat, in Aurangabad district.

The day before, two school buildings in Gaya district and another primary school building in Aurangabad district were bombed by the guerrillas. The buildings were to be used as polling centres.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram told a press conference in Mumbai Wednesday that “they (Maoists) are doing everything to disrupt elections.”

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