Police strategy to encircle villages, where polling was held, three days in advance pays off

After several days of tension, concerned that the Maoists would disturb the Panchayat polls in Visakha Agency, the local people, police and the district administration heaved a sigh of relief as polling went on smoothly on Tuesday.

Since early this month the CPI (Maoist), which gave a call to boycott the elections, forced postponement of elections in 19 Panchayats through different means.

About 200 Maoists from neighbouring States moved into Visakha Agency to disturb the elections. But the police’s strategy of attaining area domination, by encircling the villages where the polling and counting of votes was done three days in advance and posting armed police near polling stations in sensitive villages, worked.

A large number of policemen – AP Special Police, Greyhounds, Cobra parties along with CRPF deployed in the Agency area kept the Maoists at bay.

At some places like Vantlamamidi, Kinnagi and A. Annavaram the polling was brisk from the time the booths were opened at 7 a.m.

Keenness of voters

Superintendent of Police Vikramjeet Duggal said that team work ensured peaceful polling and more importantly the Girijans’ keenness to exercise their franchise saw a successful day. “More than 69 per cent of polling is a big achievement for (an election) in the Agency. It’s a vote against Maoists,” Mr. Duggal said when contacted by The Hindu.

Even at Kommangi, the village of an important Maoist leader of AOB Kudumula Ravi, in Chintapalli mandal, polling was peaceful. Heavy security was arranged in the village.

Rains play spoilsport

People it appeared were more concerned about the inclement weather in some mandals than the Maoists. Rains during the last several days saw that the polling personnel could not reach Bungaputtu and Bagusala in Munchingput mandal, Matham Bheemavaram in Koyyuru mandal and Bennavaram in Chintapalli, with either the hill streams or slushy roads cutting off connection to the villages.

Polling was held 217 panchayats in Paderu Revenue Division comprising 11 Agency mandals during the first phase of elections. This apart, at Deverapalli in G.K. Veedhi mandal, only two candidates who were in the fray for sarpanch post saw a mix-up of their symbols on the ballot paper. The villagers refused to cast their votes for the sarpanch post.

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