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Chhattisgarh: Maoists unleash terror on poll eve
Krishnakumar P in Raipur | November 13, 2008 23:52 IST
Suspected Maoists on Thursday murdered a Congress campaigner and abducted two other party workers. The rebels also stole three electronic voting machines meant for the interior areas in the Bastar region.
The region is going to polls on Friday and a large number of security forces have been deployed to ensure incident-free voting.
"Trinath Singh Thakur of the Congress was in the Nakulnar police station limits in Dantewada district's Gandapal village when Maoists attacked him with knives and other weapons," a police source confirmed.
Sources in the district said the rebels also kidnapped two people who were accompanying Thakur. But the police could not confirm this.
In another incident, armed Maoists looted three electronic voting machines from polling parties in Dantewada. The Maoists surrounded the polling party in Gadiras area under Konta assembly constituency and asked them to hand over the EVMs, meant for Mankapal, Maruti [Get Quote] and Parodam polling stations.
After the polling parties handed over the EVMs, the Maoists disappeared into the woods without harming the officials.
"The polling party was going to the stations without any armed guards accompanying them. Maoists intercepted them and escaped with the EVMs" an officer in-charge of the area said.
The polling party has returned to their base and will be sent again with new EVMs for voting, polling officials said.
"They will have to go either tomorrow or tonight with adequate security," said a local observer. On why the parties went in without police protection, he said: "In some places in the interiors, they prefer to go without police cover as the presence of security personnel is surely bound to invite the Maoists attention and their lives will be in danger. Even in this case, the polling officers survived only because there weren't any police with them," he said.
The administration has also decided to deploy helicopters to ferry election officers to some places in interior Bastar, which is a Maoist stronghold.
"The Maoists have rigged the roads with landmines and had even asked the public not to take these roads till the elections are over," said one local.
Constituencies will go to polls on Friday and the Bastar region will decide which of the two main parties gains the advantage in the Naxal-hit region.
Women voters outnumber men in most of the 39 seats that will go to polls on Friday.
Another significance in the first phase is the overwhelming response that the Communist Party of India, which has campaigned against the so-called people's movement Salwa Judum and has two candidates in the fray.
While Manish Kunjam has mounted a strong challenge on Leader of the Opposition and the architect of the Salwa Judum movement Mahendra Karma of the Congress, the CPI is also looking for a good show in neighbouring Konta.
If Karma loses his seat, it will be read a vote against Salwa Judum and might be the strongest indictment of the movement yet.
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