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Security fears in Chhattisgarh

November 30, 2003 23:18 IST

Chhattisgarh is going to the polls for the first time after it was carved out from Madhya Pradesh on November 1, 2000.

In view of the poll boycott call by Naxalites, Indian Air Force helicopters will be used to transport polling officials and election material to the interiors of Bastar, Dantewada and Kanker districts.

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Around 130 companies of para-military forces, including 36 companies of the state's Special Armed Police, would be deployed in the Naxal infested segments while a total of 57,000 security personnel would be present to ensure a free and fair poll.

In an indication of dimension of the task at hand, six policemen and a civilian were killed on Saturday evening when Naxalites set off a landmine targeting the convoy of the Congress candidate from Bijapur assembly constituency.

Naxalites of the outlawed People's War group carried out the attack at around 1815 IST in Kungupalli village in Naxal-infested Bastar district when Rajendra Pambhoi was returning after electioneering, Bijapur Superintendent of Police J S Watti told PTI by telephone on Sunday.

The jeep carrying security personnel, which was following Pambhoi's car, was blown to pieces.

The deceased are: Assistant Platoon Commander Ramesh Kumar Nirmal, Head Constable Pawan Kumar and constables Disali Ram, Visambhar Bhedia, Samar Singh Ekka and Rajendra Singh of the 5th battalion of the Chhattisgarh Armed Police.

The civilian killed was the driver of the jeep. He is yet to be identified.

The state's 1,35,22,729 electors will have to chose from 819 candidates, including 254 independents and 64 women. Out of the 29 political parties in the fray, both the ruling Congress and the main opposition BJP have put up candidates in all the 90 seats whereas the NCP has candidates in 89.

Over 65 central observers would be present in the 16 districts of the state where 328 magistrates and 1193 special executive magistrates will try to maintain law and order.

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