Polling begins for 20 assembly seats in Chhattisgarh amid massive security blanket | India News



RAIPUR: Peaceful polling began on Tuesday morning for the first phase of assembly elections in Chhattisgarh under a massive security blanket of thousands of police personnel and paramilitary forces in insurgency-hit Bastar region.
Polling in Bastar began at 7 am for twelve assembly constituencies in the first phase and will end at 3 pm while the polling in other regions started at 8 am and will end at 5 pm.
The first phase polling for 20 out of 90 assembly seats has 223 candidates in the fray, including 25 women, and 40,78,681 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. Women voters outnumber men in seats covered under the first phase of polling with 20,84,675 female voters and 19,93,937 male voters.
Amidst comprehensive security arrangements, which include the deployment of drones,helicopters, and advanced surveillance technology in Maoist-affected areas, a total of 5,304 polling centers have been established for this phase of the elections.
Key candidates in the fray include former Chief Minister Raman Singh (Rajnandgaon), State Congress President Deepak Baij (Chitrakot-ST), Forest Minister Mohammad Akbar (Kawardha), Tribal Welfare Minister Mohan Markam (Kondagaon-ST), Excise Minister Kawasi Lakhma (Konta-ST), and CPI leader Manish Kunjam (Konta-ST), who is running as an independent candidate.
In the Maoist-affected Bastar division of the state, many polling parties have been airlifted to polling booths via helicopters. Over 450 companies of security forces are closely monitoring these constituencies to ensure fair and smooth polling. Out of the 20 assembly constituencies where voting will take place in the first phase in Chhattisgarh, 12 are in the Maoist-affected Bastar division.
The Bastar division has established 2,900 polling booths, with 650 designated as sensitive. In this election, 196 polling booths have been relocated for security reasons, and an additional 126 polling booths have been opened in villages to provide residents with the opportunity to vote in their own village for the first time since independence.
Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sunderraj P has stated that central paramilitary forces and special units such as the District Reserve Guard (DRG), Special Task Force (STF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) COBRA, and local forces like the Bastar Fighters have been stationed at polling centers to manage and secure the routes leading to these centers. Moreover, neighboring states, including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Odisha, have deployed their special forces to guard the border regions.
To address potential threats, specialized units such as the Bomb Disposal Unit and the Dog Squad are on standby to respond promptly to any suspicious objects or activities. Additionally, in 2023, a total of 126 new polling centers are being established in over 156 locations. This includes relocating 40 polling centers, including Minpa, Galgam, Silger, and Chandameta, to their original villages due to improved security conditions.





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