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|September 23, 1999||
Massive security cover in Bihar, Orissa
A search operation was in full swing in the extremist-dominated areas of Patna and Bhojpur district as campaign for the fourth phase of the 13th general election ended this evening in 74 constituencies spread over nine states, which go to the polls on Saturday.
An electorate of 80 million will decide the fate of 696 candidates in the fray for 24 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, 19 in Bihar, 12 in Madhya Pradesh, 10 in Orissa, 4 in Himachal Pradesh, 2 in Meghalaya and one each in Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur.
Authorities in Patna were on guard against any recurrence of landmine blasts, which had killed 38 persons in the first phase. Precautions would include throwing sandbags on sensitive roads in the extremist-dominated areas before the entry of security and polling personnel
Union Home Commissioner U N Panjiyar said the Centre has provided additional 15 companies of paramilitary forces. More than 100 companies of Bihar military police, 26,000 district policemen and 30,000 home guards would also be deployed.
By Saturday evening, polling for 418 out of the 545-member Lok Sabha would be over.
The security arrangements were reviewed in Nagaland where the banned NSCN (IM) had supported the call of the Naga ho-ho for a poll boycott. With mounting pressure on Pakisatni ultras prowling around high-altitude regions of Doda district in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police has launched anti-insurgency operations on the borderland of Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh in view of the election.
In Madhya Pradesh, a massive security cover has been thrown in the Naxalite-prone constituencies of Bastar (ST), Kanker (ST), Rajnandgaon, Mandla (ST) and Balaghat. Helicopters have been pressed into service for aerial surveillance, while the police force has been provided landmine detectors.
Hypersensitive areas have been identified where polling officials and police force would walk instead of using vehicles.
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