With Assembly elections nearing in Chhattisgarh, police have received inputs of Naxals planting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) near polling booths in the Maoist-hotbed of Bastar division in a bid to disrupt the electoral process.
Security forces are regularly conducting operations to detect landmines in southern Chhattigsarh following inputs that the rebels have planted IEDs in polling booths premises located in hyper-sensitive parts of Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts, police sources said.
The inputs have also tipped off police about the Reds planting IEDs on routes connecting the polling centres, to cause maximum damage to polling parties and security forces who will be deployed for conducting elections.
As many as 18 Naxal-affected constituencies of eight districts of south Chhattisgarh will go to polls next month.
“The strategy of planting explosives near polling stations was used in previous elections to deter government officials and security forces from conducting polling. This time again they are reportedly doing the same,” an Intelligence Bureau official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
As per the information, the vulnerable areas where the ultras seem to be increasing their technique of planting IEDs include polling centres under Kokrajhar, Benoor, Dhaudai, Orchha, and Idka of Narayanpur district and Bayanar, Mardapal and Bade Dongar area of Kondagaon district, he said.
However, he did not rule out the possibility of Naxals going with same strategy in their strongholds in other districts of the region.
Naxals find it easy to plant landmines after rainy season as it is convenient to dig tunnels on either side of a wet road to reach the top from below to plant the IED, the official said.
Since elections are scheduled after rains, the extremists may take advantage of the situation and try to carry out blasts through IEDs, the official said.
Eighteen Naxal-affected constituencies of eight districts -- Bastar, Bijapur, Kondagaon, Sukma, Narayanpur, Dantewada, Kanker and Rajnandgaon -- will go to polls in the first phase on November 11.
Taking a serious view of the Maoists threat, the Centre has sent additional 400 companies (40,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces to ensure peaceful polling.
Around 65,000 police personnel and 27,000 paramilitary troopers are already engaged in anti-Naxal operations in the state.
Notably, the state government has recommended to the Election Commission to relocate over 250 polling booths in hyper-sensitive areas of the Naxal-infested region of south Chhattisgarh following the threat by Maoists.
“The talks are on at high level to go ahead with the proposal. Even in past polling booths were relocated during both Assembly and Lok Sabha polls,” a state government official here said.
Like they did in the past, Naxals have again put up posters and banners in Bastar urging people not to cast their vote and boycott polls.