Current polls will be most peaceful, says Adilabad Superintendent of Police Gajarao Bhupal
In the April 2004 general election, a contingent of 30 policemen on duty at the ‘inaccessible’ hilly polling station of Mangi in Asifabad Assembly constituency requested the Gond elders to spend nights in the police camp set up in the local ashram school. The security men wanted this to happen in the belief that presence of tribal people would be the deterrence that an armed dalam of extremists would never dare to ignore.
Adilabad was not an isolated case but, the threat of Maoists disrupting elections was very real in other North Telangana districts of Karimnagar, Warangal and Nizamabad until that election. There has been such a turnaround in the situation that Adilabad Superintendent of Police Gajarao Bhupal ventures to even claim that the current elections will be the most peaceful.
The security forces in Telangana districts nevertheless, are not in a mood to take chances. They are taking adequate precautions to prevent, rather pre-empt any violence from Left-wing extremists.
Election authorities are concentrating efforts on ensuring peaceful elections in Khammam which shares about 200 km of its border with Chhattisgarh and has 238 of the 2,259 being affected by Left-wing extremism, including the 140 which are located in Bhadrachalam Assembly segment alone.
According to Khammam SP A.V. Ranganath, a helicopter would be kept ready for use in contingencies. Among other measures to control naxalite violence was aerial surveillance of border areas and use of modern telecommunication facilities.
Intelligence reports suggest that Maoists have deputed a dozen Action Teams to target politicians which will be countered by police Counter Action Teams. Already a tribal activist of the CPI (M) has been gunned down by the extremists in election related violence in Tummada of Chintoor mandal.
Adilabad too shares over 150 km of its border with the naxal affected districts of Chandrapur and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra which gives the police some reason for expecting spill over Maoist activity. There are many ferry points across the Pranahita on the border which are under strict surveillance.
Of the 2,256 polling stations in 10 Assembly constituencies in Adilabad district, 169 have been identified as affected by Left- wing extremism. Sirpur segment has 48 of these while Khanapur and Chennur Assembly constituencies have 44 and 40 respectively and Asifabad 20 as these share long and riverine border with neighbouring Maharashtra.
The police in Warangal classified 609 polling stations of the 2,200 as sensitive and no extremist related violence in the coming election is anticipated in this district. There is a chance that Maoists may cross over into this district from the heavily forested areas of Eturnagaram, Mahadevpur in Karimnagar and in Mangapet via Bhadrachalam, according to Warangal Rural SP L.K.V. Ranga Rao.
Of the 12 Assembly constituencies in the district, the police identified Narsampet, Mulug and parts of Parkal as sensitive due to Maoist threat besides identifying Mahabubabad as sensitive owing to the presence of the CPI (ML) New Democracy, a faction of extremists.
Though naxalite violence is not anticipated in Karimnagar district also, it is a little bit surprising to observers as this district has contributed top leadership in the movement including the present CPI (Maoist) supremo Muppala Laxman Rao alias Ganapathi. As the Manthani Assembly segment shares its borders with Chhattisgarh, police are concentrating on control of spill over activity here.
Of the 3,393 polling stations 165 have been identified as affected by left wing extremism including the 104 in Manthani constituency.