– 70000 security personnel to man second phase of panchayat elections today
Ranchi, Dec. 5: Over 70,000 security personnel will take up the gauntlet against Maoists in the second phase of panchayat elections in 71 blocks — more than 70 per cent of which are rebel-hit — under 23 districts tomorrow.
Their numbers are up by 30,000 compared to the relatively relaxed first phase on November 27.
Conceding that more sensitive areas were going to polls in this phase, state additional director-general of police (law and order) D.K. Pandey said elaborate security arrangements had been made. “As many as 721 companies of security personnel, including paramilitary forces, have been deployed. Routes leading to polling stations have been sanitised and ground conditions have been made for free, fair and peaceful elections.”
He added that security concerns were more along the Bengal border, particularly in rebel-hit Patamda and Bodam blocks in East Singhbhum, Karra and Murhu blocks in Khunti, Nawadih of Bokaro, Nirsa in Dhanbad and Chouparan in Hazaribagh, besides Maoist-dominated Bagoder, Birni and Saria in Giridih, which, however, doesn’t share borders with the neighbouring state.
Three surveillance choppers, hundreds of quick response teams and police cluster points at strategic locations will add teeth to the security machinery for rural poll round two.
Briefing newsmen, state election commissioner S.D. Sharma said he expected a good turnout despite rebel threats. “We see no problem. People’s participation in the first phase proved that they have no fear as far as exercising their third voting rights is concerned. We are hopeful of a good polling percentage. I appeal to people to come out without fear and exercise their voting rights,” he said.
Polling for 1,292 panchayats in the 71 blocks of 23 districts, barring Lohardaga, will begin at 7am and will continue till 3pm. Over 42.92 lakh rural voters are expected to exercise their franchise to elect as many as 15,599 representatives to the three-tier panchayati raj.
A total of 47,406 nominees for different posts — 25,671 for gram panchayat members, 12,451 for mukhiyas, 7,599 for panchayat samiti members and 1,685 for zilla parishad members — have thrown their hat in the ring. The number of posts on offer are 15,599 — 12,885 for gram panchayat membership, 1,292 posts each for mukhiya and panchayat samiti membership and 130 posts for zilla parishad membership. The first phase of rural polls last month had witnessed an overwhelming over 68 per cent turnout, with blocks in Seraikela-Kharsawan recording 79.5 per cent polling.