Chhattisgarh: Amid high turnout,20 booths saw zero pollinghttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/chhattisgarh-amid-high-turnout-20-booths-saw-zero-polling/

Chhattisgarh: Amid high turnout,20 booths saw zero polling

A Ministry of Home Affairs internal note said “security forces frustrated Maoist plan to disrupt polls.”

The first phase of Chhattisgarh elections witnessed higher-than-expected turnout but in eight districts worst affected by Left Wing Extremism,at least 20 booths recorded zero polling,an official said.

A Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) internal note said “security forces frustrated Maoist plan to disrupt polls.”

One of the reasons attributed to the eight percent increase in voter turnout compared to the 2008 Assembly elections in these 18 constituencies was the “reach of the security forces deeper into these areas over the past one year.” Since November last year,the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) established 20 new camps in areas like Narayanpur,Kondagaon and Sukma. Many polling booths were located closer to these camps so that people could vote despite a ban called by the CPI(Maoists). An MHA official said the poll-day violence was relatively less with 17 incidents (1 killed) in comparison to 48 incidents (4 killed) during the last Assembly elections in 2008.

“It is true that since the last Assembly elections,the presence of central forces in these areas has increased,it is difficult to attribute the success entirely to it though,” said Sunil Kujur,chief electoral officer,Chhattisgarh.

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The Election Commission (EC) relocated 167 booths in the highly sensitive zone,a move hardly of any help as 20 booths recorded zero polling. An official said these booths,barring a few,recorded polling between 1-5 percent.

“Since November last year,we started intensive patrolling in these areas and also set up camps housing 100-150 personnel here. We are not saying that we did this keeping the elections in mind but it was all done for operational purpose. If the efforts have paid off well then we welcome it… Notwithstanding the boycott call and assiduous preparations by the CPI(Maoist) to disrupt the polls,the first phase of the Assembly elections by and large remained peaceful due to intelligent offensive and defensive tactics adopted by the security forces,” the MHA note said.

MHA lauded the meticulously planned induction of 564 companies of additional forces,post-induction training including IED detection and most importantly scaling up anti-Maoist operations closer to poll date.