Election time in Naxal-infested Jharkhand is doubly dangerous for the politicians many of whom are high on the rebels' hit-list. As candidates and their supporters move in the countryside, tour villages and address huge rallies, the security agencies face a nightmarish situation in providing them security especially as many of the leaders believe that a tight security cordon prevents them from campaigning effectively.
Jharkhand has witnessed many political killings by the Naxals with one of the latest being All Jharkhand Students' Union leader Tileshwar Sahu who was shot dead by suspected People's Liberation Front of India (PLFI) cadre. The PLFI along with groups like Jharkhand Prastuti Committee (JPC) and Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) are some of the Naxal outfits operating in the state apart from the biggest and deadliest of them all - the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist).
Based on intelligence inputs, the state police has issued advisories to the political leaders and warned them about the threat, sources have told IBNLive. The top leaders who are on Naxal hit-list include Chief Minister Hemant Soren, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Shibu Soren, former CM and BJP leader Arjun Munda, state Congress chief Sukhdev Bhagat, Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) supremo Babu Lal Marandi, MP Dr Ajay Kumar and a few others.
A senior Jharkhand Police officer under conditions of anonymity told IBNLive that leaders have been advised not to accepts gifts during election rallies, stick to the sanitised routes, not to share their route details with a large number of people, ask their supporters to help and cooperate with the police during frisking and checking. Patrolling along the state's borders with Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal have been intensified to prevent Naxals from crossing over.
Jharkhand Police has also asked for satellite phones for its personnel posted in Naxal strongholds as the rebels have been continuously targeting mobile towers during elections which have disrupted the communication network in several areas of the state.
In the last few years, Naxals have ruthlessly eliminated many political opponents. In January 2005 Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) MLA Mahendra Singh was gunned down just a day after he had filed nominations to contest for the elections. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha Lok Sabha MP Sunil Kumar Mahato was killed in March 2007 along with three others at Bakuria in East Singhbhum district. Janata Dal United (JDU) MLA and former Jharkhand Minister Ramesh Singh Munda and four others were killed in July 2009 while he was delivering his speech at Bundu in his assembly constituency Tamar.
The state with 14 Lok Sabha seats has 24 districts - Bokaro, Chatra, Deoghar, Dhanbad, Dumka, Garhwa, Giridih, Godda, Gumla, Hazaribagh, Jamtara, Khunti, Koderma, Latehar, Lohardaga, Pakur, Palamu, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Ramgarh, Ranchi, Sahibganj, Seraikela-Kharsawan and Simdega. The 15 districts which have heavy presence of Naxals are Bokaro, Chatra, Dhanbad, Dumka, Garhwa, Giridih, Gumla, Hazaribagh, Khunti, Latehar, Lohardaga, Palamu, Pakur, West Singhbhum and Simdega.