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2-min read

Despite Looming Maoist Threat, Bastar's Voters Turnout in Large Numbers on First Day of Polls

Even before the clock struck 7, long queues of people were seen outside polling booths in Bastar’s Dantewada with some of the men and women walking from regions which are 10 kms away.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:April 11, 2019, 12:56 PM IST
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Despite Looming Maoist Threat, Bastar's Voters Turnout in Large Numbers on First Day of Polls
Voters queue up outside a polling booth in Dantewada.
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Bastar: The looming threat of a Maoist attack did little to deter the voters of violence-ridden Bastar in Chattisgarh.

Even before the clock struck 7, long queues of people were seen outside polling booths in Bastar’s Dantewada with some of the men and women walking from regions which are 10 kms away.

This comes despite the Maoist attack on a BJP convoy just two days back, in which MLA Bhima Mandavi and four of his security men were killed.

As per the latest updates, the voter turnout at Bastar was 21%. There are eight assembly seats in the parliamentary constituency including Konta, Narayanpur, Kondagaon, Bastar, Jagdalpur, Chitrakot, Dantewada and Bijapur.

A few hours into voting, an IED blast was reported from Farasgaon area in Narayanpur. Intelligence inputs seemed to suggest that Maoists were behind the blast, which was reportedly targetting the polling party. No one was injured in the incident.

Meanwhile, in Bijapur district, the security forces arrested four Maoists and seized firearms even as voters cast their votes. The outlaws, belonging to the Maad division of Maoists, were apprehended from Bedre area in the morning in a joint operation of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) and district force, an official said.

At Halbaras' polling booth in Kuakonda, Maoists put up posters cautioning voters against exercising their franchise, which the security forces removed.

In the Maoist hotbed of Sukma, trees were cut down and roads were blocked between Dornapal and Gorgunda, which the security forces managed to clear by early Thursday morning. Meanwhile, in Kirandul –Bacheli route, a report of a bomb was received, which later turned out to be a hoax.

Former Maoists Arjun and Vetty Rama, who had surrendered earlier, assisted the security forces in standing guard to ensure safe polling.

However, the Maoist threat seemed to have affected voter turnout in some of the remote areas of Dantewada including Alnar, Purangel, Kalepal, Samalwar, Gumiapal and Hiroli where only a handful of voters turned out to cast their vote.

Congress candidate Dipak Baij exercised his franchise with his family in Chitrakot’s Gadhiya polling booth on Thursday morning. Former BJP minister, Kedar Kashyap, cast his vote at Jagdalpur’s Bhanpuri while Devti Karma reached Farasgaon to cast her vote.

A total of seven candidates are in the fray in Bastar, one of the 11 Lok Sabha seats in Chhattisgarh. The main contest, however, remains between Congress’ Dipak Baij and BJP’s Baiduram Kashyap.

Bastar, which is often referred to as the cultural hub of Chhattisgarh, has remained a saffron citadel with the BJP remaining victorious since 1998. However, the BJP this time has denied a ticket to the two-time MP Dinesh Kashyap, who belongs to a politically powerful family in the region.

Heavy security forces were deployed in Bastar, including the use of drones and webcasting, and Chief Electoral Officer of Chhattisgarh Subrat Sahu was personally monitoring the proceedings from Raipur.


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