With the August 29 Bihar policemen hostage crisis fresh in mind and poll boycott call given by Maoists besides the criminal background of some candidates, Bihar goes to a six phase assembly election from October 21.

Of the 243 assembly constituencies in Bihar, 47 of them are in 33 Maoist-hit districts where the Election Commission has decided to deploy central para-military forces and hold polling between 7:00 am and 3:00 pm. There are a total of 38 districts in the state.

Chief Election Commissioner S. Y. Quereshi, who wound up a recent visit to review poll preparedness, law and order and deployment of forces, said the central para-military forces and armed police from other states would be deployed during the elections.

The CPMF and SAP will be used for guarding polling stations and for providing security to electors and polling personnel at the polling stations on election day, he said.

The forces would also secure strong rooms where EVMs would be stored and counting centres.

The Commission would issue instructions from time to time on preventive measures to be taken by district magistrates and the police for conduct of free and fair elections.

Violence in elections has, however, been declining going by statistics.

In 1999 76 persons had died during the Lok Sabha polls and 61 in the 2000 assembly elections, with the fatalities increasing to 191 in the 2001 elections to local and urban bodies.

The situation turned the corner after the EC deployed a special observer, Dr K. J. Rao, to oversee security during the 2004 general elections.

Nineteen people died during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls and 27 in the 2005 Assembly elections.

The number of fatalities dropped to seven in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Earlier, during the 1989 Lok Sabha elections 40 persons, including policemen, had died and 53 during the 1995 assembly elections, according to the available statistics.

The elections to the 15th Lok Sabha were ‘relatively peaceful’, Director General of Police Neelmani said.

Unlike earlier, not a single civilian was killed in violence related to booth capturing and clashes between political parties or caste groups in the LS polls in 2009.

Under a special drive since 2006, 52,343 people were convicted in Bihar of various crimes, Mr. Neelmani said.

Altogether 65,707 criminals, including 2,601 hardcore ones were arrested till August this year, he said.

As per official figures, 129 out of 10,498 persons convicted by courts till August this year, were awarded capital punishment and 9,098 to life term, he said.

Of the remaining convicts, 2,481 were awarded punishment of more than 10 years, he said.

The police seized 1,412 arms, including 111 regular weapons, 9,574 rounds of ammunition, 140 bombs, 2,614 detonators 14,900 kg of explosives and busted 15 mini gun factories, he said.