Polling teams airlifted for remote Bastar

  • | Thursday | 18th April, 2024

Election officials on Tuesday began moving by helicopters to Chhattisgarhs Maoist-hit Bastar Lok Sabha constituency where voting will take place on April 19. The authorities have started dispatching electronic voting machines (EVMs) and polling parties to booths in sensitive areas of Bijapur and Sukma districts, a senior official said. Located in the southern part of the constituency, the two districts have reported multiple incidents of Maoist attacks on security personnel during elections in the past. A total of 245 polling booths have been set up in Bijapur, of which 99 in the interior areas have been relocated to safer places, Bijapur Collector Anurag Pandey said. A total of 76 polling parties will be ferried to their destinations in helicopters, and the exercise began on Tuesday from the Bijapur district headquarters, three days before the polling, he said. The teams that reach their destinations ahead of the polling day will stay in the nearest camp of the security forces, he said. All preparations have been made to ensure peaceful polling, Pandey said. Talking about security arrangements, Bijapur Superintendent of Police Jitendra Yadav said sufficient security personnel were deployed in the district. Polling parties were also being dispatched to the neighbouring Sukma district, another official said. At least 27 polling teams and EVMs will be transported in choppers from Sukma district headquarters, he said. A total of 255 polling booths have been set up in Sukma district, and polling parties for 42 booths will be shifted in choppers, Sukma Collector Haris S said. Elections to 11 Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh will be held in three phases. Bastar is the only Lok Sabha constituency to go to polls in the first phase on April 19. Earlier, an officer said helicopters will ferry polling personnel for 167 polling booths in the constituencies of Bastar (ST), Kanker (ST) and Mahasamund considering the Maoist threat and geographical location. As per plan, 919 polling personnel will be sent to 156 polling stations by helicopters in Bastar and 84 personnel to nine booths in Kanker seat and two in the Gariaband area of Mahasamund seat, he said. During Assembly elections last year, the Indian Air Force conducted 404 sorties with eight MI-17 choppers for six days, facilitating the deployment and evacuation of 853 polling team members in five districts of Bastar division Sukma, Bijapur, Kanker, Dantewada and Narayanpur.

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