Security intensified as Maoists issue fresh poll boycott call in Jharkhand’s Dumka district
DUMKA: Taking a cue from the earlier elections, elaborate security arrangements have been made to thwart any attempt to disrupt the polling process. As part of the exercise, IAF helicopters have been pressed into service for dropping poll personnel at sensitive areas in the Maoist-hit Dumka district. Polling personnel of 19 booths in Naxalite-hit Kathikund, Shikaripara and Gopikandar blocks in the district were ferried to respective helipads, which were constructed earlier amid fears of a possible attack against security forces and poll workers.
The district administration had identified six booths in Shikaripara, seven in Kathikund and six in Gopikandar blocks in the district as the most vulnerable ones. Chopper service has been made available to ferry poll workers in these blocks. A total of 76 polling personnel were lifted by IAF helicopters which ferried them from Dumka airport in separate trips and will be stationed here until Thursday for emergency, particularly injuries to security forces or polling personnel on all the three Lok Sabha constituencies in Santhal Pargana. Four IAF guards also accompanied the polling personnel onboard the helicopter and were armed with light machine guns to counter rebels.
Maoists behind high polling in Kandhamal?
Maoists, who have been routinely calling for poll boycott during every election, may have played a big role in ensuring very high turnouts in certin parts of Odisha’s Kandhamal district. In sharp contrast to zero polling in some of the booths in the Maoist-affected districts in Odisha, especially in Malkangiri, Kandhamal recorded an unprecedented polling figures during the first phase polls on April 10 in areas where Maoists call the shots.
While a maximum polling of 80.59 per cent was recorded in Kotagarh block, a known stronghold of the Maoists, polling in the other two Maoist affected areas- Daringbadi and Tumudibandh-was as high as 72.93 and 64.27 percent respectively. While many have attributed the massive turnout in these hypersensitive areas to the courage of the voters and the success of the administration’s vote awareness campaign, sources say the Maoist groups that operate in these localities reversed their stand and persuaded the people to cast their votes in favour the candidates of their choice.
Requesting anonymity, some of the polling officials, who were on duty at these polling booths, said even the known local Maoists and their supporters had come to cast their votes. The matter calls for both a probe to check the veracity of the claims as also to find out the party or the candidates the Maoists chose to side with in this election. “If the Maoist interference in the poll process is found to be true, it would mean that the left wing ultras are not only fully active in the district but also wield great influence over the people here,”said a senior NGO activist.
Two women ‘Maoists’ nabbed in Koraput, explosives seized in Nabarangpur
Security personnel arrested two women, suspected to have been Maoists, from Dumasil village of Narayanpatna block in Odisha’s Koraput district in the wee hours on Wednesday. The arrested suspected Maoists, identified as Kendruka Rupi and Kendruka Jamalu were later brought to Narayanpatna police station for interrogation after which they were taken to Laxmipur, police said. According to reports, the BSF personnel and the local police raided Dumasila village in the wee hours on Wednesday after conducting a night-long combing operation in the nearby forest area on late Tuesday night.
During the raid, the security personnel arrested the two women Maoists who were active members of Jana Natya Mandalam of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh, a local radical outfit. It may be mentioned that Purna Huluka, alleged to have been a Maoist, was killed in an encounter with the police in Narayanpatna on April 13 and another person called Mina of Dumasila village was detained.
Acting on the statement of Mina during interrogation, police later arrested the two women. In a separate development, the BSF personnel seized three SBML guns, explosives and food materials from inside a cave in Kedupari forest near Maidalpur village of Papadahandi block in Nabarangpur district on late Tuesday night. Acting on a tip-off that some Maoists are camping inside the forest, the Central forces launched a combing operation in the forest at about 2 AM and found these items from a cave.