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|August 16, 1999||
Section 144 clamped on three Bihar districts
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code have been clamped on Dhanbad, Giridih and Hazaribagh districts in view of the Lok Sabha polls.
Exactly a month remains for the close of campaigning for the first phase of the elections.
According to official reports, the prohibitory orders were issued to maintain law and order and shield the common man, students, the aged, the disabled and the infirm from the cacophony of campaigning. Loudspeakers cannot be used within 200 metres of any educational institution, hospital or judicial establishment without permission of the deputy commissioner and sub-divisional officers. Besides, the decibel-level cannot cross the permissible limit. Loudspeakers cannot be used beyond 2200.
Festivals and religious congregations without campaign connotations had been exempted from these orders. Section 144 would be in force till the completion of the electoral process.
The administration has raided the hideouts of anti-social elements to ensure a fair poll.
In Dhanbad district alone, 608 miscreants had been arrested, according to deputy commissioner Pradip Kumar. The administration was considering cancellation of arms licences during the election process. Kumar said an increased vigil would be maintained in the Naxal-affected areas of Giridih, Dhanbad and Hazaribagh in view of the poll boycott call by Maoist Communist Centre.
Several police personnel were killed during the last two general elections in guerilla attacks by ultras. Naxal in this part of Bihar are known as Lalkhandis. In a statement, the MCC central committee gave a call to the masses and ''progressive forces'' to boycott the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in a few states. The MCC said it would rebel against the establishment and carry forward the long-term goals of people's war. The ultra-left group also asked people to seek explanation from the contestants regarding the work done.
The district administration, naturally, has created various cells to organise poll operations and counting. Dhanbad, Giridih and Hazaribagh go to the polls on September 18. Though the administrative preparations were under way, campaigning was yet to assume colour and momentum.
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